Oneonthera flava

Plant profile: Night Blooming Primrose

Night blooming primrose (latin: Oenothera flava) is a really fun plant to have in your garden, as the flowers open right before your eyes! Individual flowers open at different rates of speed, taking anywhere from 30 seconds to a few minutes (and then there’s the odd one that gets stuck and doesn’t open at all.) And all the action takes place at dusk.

 

In our house we’ve nicknamed our Oenothera “the entertainment plant” as we will sometimes go out to the garden after dinner just to sit and watch it bloom.

 

The blooms only last one night, usually shrivelling and fading to an orangey pink by noon the following day.

The leaves are shaped a lot like dandelion leaves. For that reason, I’m always worried about accidentally “weeding” it every spring, when it’s still small!

I did a stop-motion video of a few of our flowers blooming. Take a look:

 

I’ve read that this night blooming primrose is sometimes called Nine-O-Clock (because it blooms at dusk) or stemless primrose (because the flowers come right from the base of the plant, not off of a central stem). There are several varieties of night blooming primrose, some of which are taller than this one, and others that grow more like a creeper but have bigger flowers. I’ve had a couple of the other varieties but have never seen any of the others open this fast.

It’s a perennial plant in my area, and is listed as growing in zones 5 to 8. It likes full sun, but other than that, doesn’t seem too fussy.

 

 

I’ve also heard (don’t know if it’s true) that in Australia people place bets on which bloom in a patch will open, and how fast!

Have you ever grown this plant? What do you think about it? Please leave a note in the comments section below.

8 Comments

  1. Esther Allen on May 4, 2018 at 10:52 pm

    My mom had these in her garden and after dinner we would sit on the patio and watch the “moon flowers” open. I would love to find starters for my own garden…..

    • Jennifer on May 6, 2018 at 8:57 am

      “Moon flowers” is a great name for them! I’ve heard that it can be challenging to find plants. I believe that Lost Horizons nursery in Acton, Ontario sells them, but I don’t believe they offer mail order services.

  2. Esther Allen on May 6, 2018 at 9:38 am

    Thanks for the lead, I’m on a mission and hope to find a source. I also heard of a mail order business here in Michigan where I live. Hope to check it out this week.

  3. Nate on May 27, 2018 at 6:08 pm

    I, too am searching for a source for getting this plant. My family had them growing up, but they vanished from lack of cultivation in the North Carolina sun. If anyone finds a source, please post! Alternately, i would pay anyone who has a stand of these to ship some my way!

  4. Sandy W on June 21, 2018 at 10:03 pm

    I have these growing around my pond they have started to multiply now after having two of them for a few years, A friend of mine had them and she gave me two plants.

  5. Paul Miller on July 1, 2018 at 12:58 pm

    I received a packet of seeds from a friend. This variety is a bit taller (3 feet) but otherwise the same.

  6. Esther Allen on July 1, 2018 at 4:46 pm

    I thought I had a source for these plants but unfortunately it is no longer a viable option. So I’m back on the hunt…

  7. Kathy H on July 9, 2018 at 9:22 am

    We had them around our pond for years and I put a couple of them in pots to take with us when we moved this spring and haven’t put them in the ground yet. It’s been 3 months and they are doing really well in the pots.

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