Plan the perfect garden with our interactive tool →

How to Care for Evening Primrose

The evening primrose is an herb-like perennial plant that usually grows up to 19 1/2 inches tall but can sometimes reach heights of 4 to 5 feet. The evening primrose has hairy leaves that emit a lemon odor and bright yellow, 2 1/2-inch wide flower spikes that bloom in the evening and close during the daytime. The evening primrose blooms throughout the summer and autumn. The entire plant is edible and often used for medicinal purposes. The oils in the plant’s seeds contain gamma-linolenic acid (GLA), an essential fatty acid.

Plant your evening primrose in the winter, in full sunlight and fertile, well-draining soil. If you’re planting multiple evening primroses, space the plants about 1 1/2 to 2 feet apart.

Water your evening primrose once or twice each week to supplement rainfall during the growing season to keep the soil slightly moist at all times. Wait until the top 1 to 2 inches of soil dries before watering.

Feed your evening primrose an all-purpose, liquid flower fertilizer once each month throughout the growing season.

Prune away any crowded stems. Cut back the evening primrose after it finishes flowering and remove the spent blooms to promote re-blooming.

Low-growing Evening Primrose

Evening primrose has a sprawling growth pattern, green leaves and small- to medium-sized flowers. The flowers bloom during late spring and summer. The plant often stays low to the ground, reaching heights of between 6 and 24 inches tall. Evening primrose grows throughout most of the United States and southern Canada, especially in USDA plant hardiness zones 3 through 8. It tends to grow along plains, prairies and hillsides. It prefers soils with excellent drainage and grows best when it receives full sunlight. Its low growth and sprawling pattern allow it to work as a groundcover, although it does not look great when the foliage dies back during winter. Evening primrose oil also helps treat premenstrual syndrome by reducing symptoms such as cramps and bloating. Although the oil is safe for most people, people who suffer from seizures or mental illnesses that cause mania should avoid taking the oil.


If you’re growing an evening primrose indoors, place the plant beside a sunny, south-facing window.


Avoid planting your evening primrose close to taller plants. Not only will the taller plants shade the evening primrose, but they will also steal nutrients and water from the evening primrose.

Garden Guides