Herb of the month: Evening Primrose (Oenethera Biennis) is more than just a beautiful garden herb that opens its flowers as evening approaches, spilling out its light perfume.
The bright yellow flowers play a very important role in attracting beneficial insects that prey on pests as well acting as a magnet for pollinating bees and butterflies.
Every part of this plant can be used. The leaves can be cooked and eaten as greens. The flowers are sweet and can be used in salads or as a pretty garnish. Roast the ripe seeds in an oven and use on bread or sprinkle over salads. As with all edible flowers, use sparingly until you know how they affect you, especially if you have plant allergies.
Evening primroses grow best in full sun but will tolerate partial shade. Sow between spring and autumn. They can grow in poor soil as long as it drains well. The flower spikes/inflorescences are produced in the second year and reach up to 1m so it’s a good idea to position them towards the middle or back of a bed.
Plants will survive long periods of drought but will grow and flower better with regular watering. Although they die down in winter, cutting down the plant to the ground will stimulate new growth in spring.
Written by Alice Spenser-Higgs