Yellow Evening Primrose Plant: Wildflower In The Garden

Yellow Evening Primrose Wildflowers
evening primrose flower
(Image credit: Christina Vartanova)

Yellow evening primrose (Oenothera biennis L) is a sweet little flowering plant that does well in almost any part of the United States. An early spring wildflower, the common evening primrose plant is often just as likely to be scorned as a weed as it is to be welcomed into the flower bed.

About the Yellow Evening Primrose Plant

The evening primrose plant is a native wildflower in North America. It grows in abundance and is sometimes mistaken for a dandelion. As the name suggests, the yellow evening primrose blossoms open up in the evening and the blooms stay open into the early morning. The plant produces lovely, lightly scented yellow blossoms from May to July that range in size from 1 to 2 inches (2.5-5 cm.). The stems, which are slightly fuzzy, can grow up to 4 inches (10 cm.) tall. In most areas, evening primroses produce flowers from early June to September.

Growing Evening Primrose

Part of the reason many people regard this plant as a weed is that evening primrose is extremely easy to grow. The plant’s seed pods resemble capsules with wings and are ½ to ¾ inches (1-2 cm.) long, holding more than a hundred seeds each. Simply spread the seeds where you would like them to grow, making sure the soil is not too wet, since these plants can be prone to root rot. The evening primrose plant is happiest in dry open areas with full sun. Choose an area similar to the open meadows where they naturally thrive in the wild in well-drained, rocky soil with some moisture. The evening primrose is a biennial that will reseed itself wherever you plant it, but it is not very invasive and will remain well behaved in your flower beds. This plant does not transplant well, so plan ahead. It naturalizes with ease and will fill a border beautifully. It is highly drought tolerant.


Since evening primrose only opens in the evening, how does it serve our pollinators? Moths that are busy at night are attracted to the primrose’s fragrance. Just before the flowers close up in the early morning, they are often visited by certain species of bees. In addition, a variety of birds will feast on this plant's leaves, and insects enjoy the leaves, buds, and seeds as well.

Other Uses

Evening primrose is considered to have a wide array of medicinal uses from relieving headaches and inducing labor to curing baldness and as a treatment for laziness. All parts of the evening primrose plant can also be eaten. The leaves are eaten like greens and the roots are eaten like potatoes. While the small leaves of the common evening primrose add nutrition to a salad, the roots can be cooked and eaten as a vegetable, alone, or in a vegetable dish.

Disclaimer: The contents of this article are for educational and gardening purposes only. Before using or ingesting ANY herb or plant for medicinal purposes or otherwise, please consult a physician, medical herbalist, or other suitable professional for advice.

Caroline Bloomfield
Manager of Marketing Communications

Caroline Bloomfield is Manager of Marketing Communications at Gardening Know How since 2019. A northwest native, she has resided and gardened in multiple zones in the U.S. and is currently at home in Eugene, Oregon. Writing and editing for various publications since 1998, her BA in American Studies from Southern Maine University includes an emphasis in English. She was raised in California by avid gardeners and continues to enjoy the natural world with an appreciation for the concepts of sustainability and organic care for the planet.

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