What an absolutely gorgeous day today. 60 degrees and sunny weather. We worked out in the yard, raking, cleaning and burning. I peeped underneath the mulch in my herb bed and saw catnip beginning to grow. My St. John's Wort, yarrow, and lavender all survived. My oldest lavender was beginning to look "woody" and was falling over, so I took it out. I will probably regret that this summer since it gifted me with many lavender blossoms. As I looked around my garden, I was thinking about how to expand it, and what new plants to put in. I remembered some evening primrose seeds I had received in an herbal swap with a group on the Essential Herbal yahoo group. After researching more about evening primrose, I realized these were the pink buttercups I remembered as a young girl at my grandmothers.
There are many different species of evening primrose. All are in the Onagraceae family.
The pink flowered one shown above is a perennial. (oenothera speciosa) This species has a tendency to sprawl and can quickly spread to form extensive colonies. It is a prolific selfseeder. As it's name implies most evening primroses open their flowers in the evening and close them in the afternoon. In the southern most regions of the U.S., which is their natural range, they open their flowers in the morning and close at evenings. The buttercups I remember, were open in the morning.
One yellow variety (oenothera lamarckiana) is an annual which has naturalized throughout the U.S. Their blooms are up to 2 inches across and they open in late afternoon.
Both of these species do well when planted in full sun and well drained soil. They are a great addition to a wildflower meadow, along roadsides, and fence lines.
The entire plant of the evening primrose is edible, and the delicate flowers would brighten up a salad.
Evening primrose oil, which is made by pressing the oil from the tiny seeds, is often used cosmetically especially for reddened skin, and conditions such as eczema. It is also high in omega-6 fatty acids (EPO which is the good kind).
To plant, gently rake the soil, clearing of debris, and scatter the seeds. Lightly cover. The seeds need light to germinate.
The seeds attract birds, especially finches, and the flower provides a nectar source for hummingbirds. Honeybees and bumblebees collect both the pollen and the nectar.
Since the flowers give off a sweet scent, I think I will plant these around my patio, and along the fence beside the bedrooms. Open windows in the summer will allow the scent to drift in.