Oenothera kunthiana

Common Name: evening primrose 
Type: Herbaceous perennial
Family: Onagraceae
Native Range: Texas, Mexico, Guatemala
Zone: 6 to 10
Height: 1.50 to 2.00 feet
Spread: 0.50 to 1.00 feet
Bloom Time: June to August
Bloom Description: Whitish to pink
Sun: Full sun
Water: Dry to medium
Maintenance: Medium
Suggested Use: Naturalize
Flower: Showy
Tolerate: Drought


Best grown in average, dry to medium moisture, well-drained soils in full sun. Prefers heat and dryish soils, and can be difficult to grow in the St. Louis area where soils can remain moist during protracted rainy periods. Relatively short-lived, but can aggressively self-seed.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Oenothera kunthiana, sometimes commonly called Kunth's evening primrose, is a low-growing, sometimes prostrate, perennial which grows on generally reclining stems to 20" tall. Four-petaled, white flowers (to 1.5") that fade to light pink with age bloom in late spring. Oblanceolate basal leaves (to 4" long) with small pinnate lobes near the leaf bases and smaller stem leaves. Flowers give way to winged seed capsules (to 1/2" long) which have limited ornamental interest. Although native from Texas to Central America, Steyermark reports that this species was apparently introduced some time ago into St. Louis County, Missouri where it is known to grow along certain railroad tracks.

Genus name is unclear but may have come from the Greek words oinos and theras meaning wine-seeker in probable reference to an ancient use of the roots of genus plants in scenting wine.


No serious insect or disease problems. Plants can be aggressive in optimum growing conditions. This plant did not do well at the Kemper Center where it was grown in soils that were probably too moist.


Wild gardens, rock gardens, native plant areas or cottage gardens.