Gaura lindheimeri 'Whirling Butterflies'

Tried and Trouble-free Recommended by 4 Professionals
Common Name: gaura
Type: Herbaceous perennial
Family: Onagraceae
Zone: 5 to 9
Height: 2.00 to 3.00 feet
Spread: 2.00 to 3.00 feet
Bloom Time: May to September
Bloom Description: White
Sun: Full sun
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Medium
Flower: Showy

Culture

Best grown in sandy, loamy, well-drained soils in full sun. Good drainage is essential. A taprooted plant which tolerates heat, humidity and some drought. Remove spent flower spikes to prolong bloom period. Thin flower stems tend to become leggy and flop, particularly when grown in rich soils, and plants can benefit from close planting or support from adjacent perennials. Plants (particularly those which typically grow tall) may be cut back in late spring by 1/2 to control size. May self-seed if spent flower stems are left in place in the fall.

Although the species will self-seed, this cultivar is sterile.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Gaura lindheimeri, commonly called gaura, is a herbaceous clump-forming perennial that is native to Texas and Louisiana. It grows to as much as 5' tall on stems clad with spoon-shaped to lanceolate leaves (to 3" long). Pinkish buds along wiry, erect, wand-like stems open to white flowers which slowly fade to pink. Flowers appear in long, open, terminal panicles and open only a few at a time. Narrow, lance-shaped, stemless leaves (1-3" long) are occasionally spotted with maroon.

Genus name comes from the Greek gauros meaning superb in reference to the beautiful flowers.

Specific epithet honors Ferdinand Jacob Lindheimer (1801-1879), Texas plant collector.

'Whirling Butterflies' features arching red stems, pink flower buds and 4-petaled snow white flowers (1" diameter) which appear in long, terminal, wand-like panicles above the foliage over a very long late spring to autumn bloom period. Flowers open only a few at a time, and dance in the wind like butterflies, hence the cultivar name. Typically grows 2-3' tall. Differs from the species Gaura lindheimeri by being more compact and more floriferous with flowers being a brighter white. Narrow lance-shaped leaves (1-3" long) are sometimes spotted with maroon.

Problems

No serious insect or disease problems. Root rot may occur in heavy and/or poorly drained soils. Rust and powdery mildew may also occur. Watch for aphids, whitefly and flea beetles.

Taller plants may need support.

Garden Uses

Effective in sunny borders or wild gardens.