Evening Primrose Growing Guide

Oenothera speciosa, Oenothera biennis

Evening Primrose

Crop Rotation Group



Almost any site with good drainage, from rock gardens to stream banks.


Full sun.

Frost tolerant

Pink evening primrose is a long-lived hardy perennial, while yellow evening primrose is a hardy biennial that grows into a leafy mound its first year and blooms its second year. Both species tolerate winter cold to -30°F (-34°C).


None generally needed. In very poor sites, you can drench plants with a balanced organic fertilizer in early summer to increase plant size.


Single Plants: 11" (30cm) each way (minimum)
Rows: 11" (30cm) with 11" (30cm) row gap (minimum)

Sow and Plant

Start seeds of either type of evening primrose indoors in late winter, and expect germination in 10 days. Alternatively, sow seeds where you want the plants to grow, start with purchased plants, or dig and move small plants from natural colonies. With a little practice, you can easily recognize evening primrose plants because of their pointed leaves with a white central leaf vein. Young plants need water to get established, but require little care once they are well rooted. Pink evening primrose is a good choice for dry spots and roadsides. Pink evening primrose can also be included in mixed containers or grown in large planters. Yellow evening primrose is not recommended for containers due to the size of the plants and their sensitive roots. Yellow evening primrose can grow to 6 feet (2 m) or more in fertile garden soil.
Our Garden Planner can produce a personalized calendar of when to sow, plant and harvest for your area.


Pink evening primrose blooms during the day, but yellow evening primrose blooms open at night and close during the day. This trait, combined with the plants’ rather coarse texture, limits the use of yellow evening primrose in formal flower gardens. Both species are excellent fits for wildflower meadows, where they almost always reseed successfully. They are native American plants, found growing wild from Canada to Texas. Note that these Oenothera species are different from regular primroses that are classified as primulas.


Empty brown seed pods, gathered in dry fall weather, can make interesting additions to dried arrangements. The leaves, flowers, and seeds of yellow evening primrose are edible. Medicinal preparations are made from yellow evening primrose seeds.


Evening primroses are host plants for several butterflies and moths. The leaves also are a favorite food of Japanese beetles.

Planting and Harvesting Calendar

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Pests which Affect Evening Primrose