Variegated Evening Primrose

This is a bit embarrasing to admit, but I have identified the mystery plant I posted about yesterday because, well, um, I had the tag all along, as it turns out.

This evening, I decided to look one more time through all my plant tags, and it was the second tag I picked up.

May I introduce Oenothera tetragona 'Sunspot', Variegated Evening Primrose.
It is a very well-behaved Oenothera that tends to stay in one spot and very slowly form a nice sized clump which is now three feet across and about one and a half feet high in my garden.

Do not think that all Oenothera's are like this one! The pink-flowering Oenothera speciosa is an invasive spreader and should only be used under special circumstances, like where you really want an invasive spreading, pink-flowering plant. Those would be special circumstances, indeed. But don't buy one, find a gardener who has some and I'll bet they'll let you dig up all you want and then some. And while you are digging it up, if they are a good gardener, they'll be standing behind you asking over and over again, "Are you sure you want this plant? Are you sure you're sure? Look how it spreads."

But back to 'Sunspot'. I've thought for awhile that I could easily divide up my clump of this plant and I'll probably do that next spring. Usually, I know a good clump-forming perennial needs to be dug up and divided when it turns into a donut shape, where the middle has died out. That's true of hostas, asters and many others. But this evening primrose has never done that in the six years it has been in my garden, so I've left it alone.

Do you know how I know it has been six years since I planted it? Guess what else I have? Yes, I have the receipt showing when I bought this plant (June 8, 2002), where I bought it (Avon Perennial Gardens - go there if you get near it!), and how much I paid for it ($9.50).

In the six years it has been in my garden, it has peformed well, behaved well, and provided bright sunny yellow flowers and interesting foliage. I put it on my 'recommended, glad I have it' list.

And now that I know what kind of information I have in my big pile of plant tags and receipts, I'm even more ready to start my plant cataloging project. I think I'll dedicate the first page to this perennial, which is no longer a mystery, but a plant in my garden with a story behind it.

(One last tidbit about this mystery plant. When I googled 'Oenothera tetragona 'Sunspot'', I found out that I had actually listed this plant on my June 2007 Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day post, so it wasn't that long ago that I knew what this plant was... and that's all I want to say about that!)


  1. Funny how time erodes the mental plant list. I am glad you found your tags and receipts. The mystery is solved.

  2. I'm not laughing, I'm in the same boat! In yesterday's post I listed a Ipomoea-Bewitched.I looked through my tags 3 times before I found it and I ony bought it last week. Glad your mystery is solved and good luck with your plant catalog.

  3. I guess we're all overworked with our weeding. I also did the same thing. I keep a written journal as well as the blog, and I looked right past my own writing over and over again.

  4. I just started and planted some pink primrose this spring! Oh my, I'm a little worried now.

  5. Too, too funny :-) It is a very pretty plant, and I'm glad to hear that it's so well-behaved. I'll have to keep an eye out for it in my neck of the woods.

  6. I'll look out for the mounding primrose. It's strange why the pink one is so invasive because the other ones I have are well mannered. The large yellow O. missouriensis and the fine leaved Calylophus. The latter never sets a seed but I wish it did.

  7. That primrose has a well picked name. It looks like all it needs is a sunny spot. It looks great, one to put on the list to get.

  8. It is a lovely sunny faced oenothera...

  9. It all depends on where you live and what growing conditions you have. I planted that pink evening primrose in my very first garden here, back in 1992. It died out on me. Of course, that was back in the days when winter was really winter here. Perhaps a week of minus 30F nights did it in.

  10. You are so right about pink evening primrose...I planted a wildflower mix containing it in a nice new bed, and now it has taken over the entire bed, spread across a gravel path into other beds, and even into the driveway. I pull handfuls of it daily, but I am steadily losing the battle!

  11. Hi fellow Hoosier,
    Wanted to stop by and say hi. I saw your blog on Blotanical. I had posted yesterday about my Oenothera tetragona. I know them as buttercups. I had posted they were hardy to the point of being invasive. Maybe I'm just tired of them. I am forever pulling them up. Anyway, love your blog.


  12. Carol, the forgetting part sounds normal to me. But something else causes me concern:
    You paid $9.50 for an Oenothera?!

    Annie at the Transplantable Rose

  13. Lisa at Greenbow, Yes, I've solved the mystery of this one, and when I prepare my bloom day post I'm going to see if there are other "forgotten" flowers blooming.

    Beckie, I'll just assume it is because we gardeners have soooo many plant names to remember!

    Jane Marie, I do feel better knowing I'm not the only one.

    Christine, There might still be time to pull it out...

    Colleen, Your day will come, just you wait!

    Lancashire Rose (Jenny), that pink one does give all the others a bad reputation, but there are some decent Oenothera, as you've noted.

    Dave, Thank you, it is very bright in the garden.

    Gail, Indeed, yes.

    Kathy, It does take a tough plant to survive your winters, doesn't it?

    Anonymous, I'm sorry to hear that you ended up with it like that.

    Cathy, Welcome! I wonder if because mine is variegated, that makes it better behaved? BTW, I added your blog to my sidebar list of Hoosier garden bloggers.

    Annie in Austin, Well, when you put it that way, gosh, what was I thinking, and that was six years ago! I did think when I looked at the receipt that it seemed pricey...

    Thanks all for the comments!
    Carol, May Dreams Gardens


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