The airy, willow-like appearance of the gaura (Gaura lindheimeri) is almost contradictory to the toughness of this perennial flower. Hardy even in the coldest zones of the UK, gauras can withstand coastal regions as well as meadows or cottage gardens. Despite their height, often growing up to 1.2 or 1.5 m (4 or 5 feet), they look best when planted in the front of a border or garden bed. They can have either white or pale pink tubular flowers on top of long, airy stems. Gauras do best in full sun in almost any type of well-drained soil.
Container-grown plants should be planted in the spring after all danger of frost has passed. Space your gaura plants at least 60 cm (2 feet) apart. Dig a hole to accommodate the gaura, place it in the hole and backfill with soil. Compact the dirt to remove any air pockets and water thoroughly. Because of their spreading habit, make sure the plants won't be overcrowding or covering up smaller plants nearby.
Additionally, gauras may flop over after heavy rains, so staking may be necessary. If you live in cooler regions, your gaura may not bloom until later in the summer. That being said, it still puts on quite a show and is worth the wait.
Gauras are drought-tolerant plants, so they needn't be watered as often as other perennials. If you want to encourage more blooms, deadhead any spent flowers by clipping them off just under the flower head. Also, a bushier appearance can be achieved by cutting the plant back in midsummer to about 30 cm (12 inches). Gauras have very strong taproots, but with a little work they can be dug up and divided in the autumn or early spring.
In her book, "The New Complete Guide to Gardening," author Susan Roth mentions another variety of gaura that is a shorter version, growing to only 90 cm (3 feet) tall and doesn't self-sow. It's called Whirling Butterfly. So if you would like a gaura that isn't as tall, you may want to try this particular variety.