University of Vermont Extension
Department of Plant and Soil Science

Perennial of the Month - September 2000

Gaura lindheimeri 'Whirling Butterflies'

(gaw' rah lind-heim' er-ii)

Common name: White Gaura, Whirling Butterflies

Family: Onagraceae (Evening Primrose)

Height x width: 2-3' x 2-3' (this cultivar shorter than species which is 3-4' tall)

Growth rate: moderate

Foliage: alternate, lanceolate 1.5-3" long

Flowers: white fading pink, only a few flowers open at a time along reddish stalks with new ones opening as stalks grow throughout long bloom during most of summer where nights are cool; flowers appear to be whirling butterflies, hence the name; flowers about 1" long with 4 reflexed petals

Hardiness: USDA zones 5-8; grows well alike in New Zealand to Switzerland

Soil: well-drained, fertile

Light: sun, to part shade or sun in South

Pests and problems: none serious, occasionally spider mites or aphids

Landscape habit, uses: open vase-shaped, branches arching in many directions; containers, massed in borders, interplanted with lower groundcovers or perennials; performs best in hot climates or locations

Other interest: species is native to Texas, Louisiana and Mexico; genus name from gauros meaning "superb"

Other culture: long tap root, so may be difficult to transplant; tolerates dry conditions

Propagation: seed germinates in 2-3 weeks when warm; can divide after 2-3 years

Sources: The following are only a few examples of the many which carry this plant, and are not meant to discriminate against those not mentioned.  Please check other sources, as well as local perennial nurseries in your area.
Sunny Border Nurseries (wholesale), Heronswood, Plant Delights Nursery

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