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Why Is Your Gaura Not Growing? 8 Common Reasons

Why Is Your Gaura Not Growing? 8 Common Reasons

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Willie Moore
Latest posts by Willie Moore (see all)

Gaura lindheimeri is a perennial shrub plant with wiry stems and dark-green foliage, often bearing reddish-purple shades. Its pink or white flowers have a butterfly appearance and attract plenty of bees and bumblebees in the blooming season. If your Gaura is not growing, you won’t get to enjoy its foliage and flowers, so you need to know the causes of its poor growth and try possible solutions.

If your Gaura is not growing, it could be due to root rot, poor growth conditions like extreme shade, underwatering young plants, a shallow root system, or extra rich soil that nourishes the leaves but stops blooms. Your plant’s growth may also be affected by frost, over-pruning, or transplanting. 

If the right growing conditions are not maintained, your Gaura may experience stunted growth. This article presents eight common issues that sabotage growth for your Gaura. I will also recommend possible fixes and ways to prevent these issues.

1. The Plant Suffers From Root Rot

Gaura flourishes in light, sandy, well-drained soil but can tolerate heavier loamy or clay soils as long as they are humus-rich. Soggy, tight, or heavy soils will cause root rot to your Gaura. Root rot slows the growth and could eventually cause the death of your plant. 

How To Fix

To prevent root rot in your Gaura, consider these three tips:

  • Plant Gaura in well-draining soil from the onset.
  • Amend poor-draining, tight soil with peat moss or compost.
  • Plant Gaura in a raised bed. Adding 2 inches (5 cm) of expanded shale and about 6 to 8 inches (15 to 20 cm) of compost will raise the soil bed and promote good moisture drainage (source).

See our detailed guide on identifying the signs of overwatering plants.

2. It’s Located in an Overly Shady Spot

If planted in shady locations, Gauras will get leggy in search of sunlight. A shady location also slows down moisture drainage and will provoke root rot. Besides, it can also sabotage blooming.

How To Fix

There’s no shortcut remedy for a shady location for Gaura. You have to plant it in a location with full sun. Full sunlight can be considered the number one condition for excellent Gaura growth. 

Gaura grows best in full sun, though it can tolerate part shade locations. 6 to 8 hours of sunlight promote the best growth for Gauras. 

3. Underwatering Young Gaura Plants

Generally, Gauras thrive well with little watering, at most once every week. However, this does not imply your plant will grow without moisture at all. Good Gaura watering means irrigating the plant deeply once a week instead of several superficial waterings every couple of days.

How To Fix

Young Gaura plants need consistent watering until they can build a deep root system. Just be sure not to overwater and cause soggy soil, a favorable condition for root rot. 

As your Gaura grows and the root system is well established, water it less frequently. Note, though, that even older Gaura plants bloom better if you do proper watering.

4. The Plant Has a Shallow Root System

Gaura is generally considered a heat and drought-resistant species. That’s because its long taproots penetrate deep into the soil. As such, the plant can draw moisture from deep soil depths, even when left unwatered for weeks. 

So, if your Gaura is not watered for an extended period but has a shallow root system, it will be parched and will not show active growth or blooming. 

How To Fix

To promote the depth of your Gaura’s taproot system, plant it in organic soil. This type of soil has better moisture and air permeability. That means it allows deeper root growth than soil types with low permeability.

5. It’s Planted in Extra Rich Soil

The idea that rich soil can cause your Gaura not to grow may sound contradictory, but Gaura seems to enjoy growing in poor soils. When the soil is too rich, your Gaura will present abundant leaf growth and little or no blooming (source). 

How To Fix

Avoid killing or retarding your Gaura with nutrients or added fertilizer by planting and letting the plant grow in soil that is not overly rich in nutrients.

Remember, too, that Gaura does not really need additional fertilizer. If you establish that your plant lacks nutrients, a single application with a liquid fertilizer diluted to half the strength at the beginning of the growth season suffices.

6. Spikes Were Cut Down Completely in the Growth Season

Pruning your Gaura in the growth season encourages a bushy, compact shrub. However, if you prune all the flower spikes at once, your Gaura will take between 2 and 3 weeks to grow and start flowering again (source).

How To Fix

Only cut Gaura spikes completely during the ‘dormant’ or slow-growth fall season. In the full growth seasons, spring and summer, cut back only the older spikes that appear leggy. Removing them will leave space, moisture, and nutrients for the younger spikes. It will also give the plant a fuller, bushy look.

7. Transplanting Has Slowed Down Its Growth

You can cut down mature Gaura plant spikes and divide congested clusters at the beginning of the growing season. However, Gauras are hard to transplant because of their deep taproots.  Transplanting mature Gaura plants can offset and slow down their growth (source). 

How To Fix

To avoid compromising your Gaura’s growth by transplanting, ensure you grow the plant in a location with the right growth conditions so you won’t need to transplant it.

Alternatively, you can start off your Gaura in a biodegradable planter and then transfer it to its permanent location in the garden once established.

8. Soil Has Become Soggy in the Frost Season

The cold and snow in the winter cause soil to be wet and poorly drained. If by saying your Gaura is not growing you mean it is not sprouting in spring,  the roots could be dead from frost or perpetually wet soil. 

This is especially true in hardiness zones where winter frost can be extreme. Remember that Gaura grows best in USDA zones 5-9 (source).

How To Fix

To help your Gaura overwinter, cover the root surface with winter mulch to shield the roots from frost. Do not cut down the dry spikes, as they also serve to protect the roots.

Alternatively, dig out the taproots and plant them in a pot, then leave them safe indoors until you can grow your Gaura outdoors when spring sets in.


Gaura requires little care to thrive. However, you must provide minimum care and the right growth conditions. If not, your plant may experience stunted growth.

Full sun, well-drained soil, weekly watering, proper pruning, and protection of taproots in winter are the conditions you should provide for your Gaura. If you do that, your plant will keep growing and put forth its beautiful dark green foliage and pink or white flowers.

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