Gaura Whirling Butterflies ~ Add a Twist to Your Containers

Photo courtesy of Mobot.org

Have you ever planted a plant in your garden and then not liked it?  A few years ago I planted Gaura lindheimeri ‘Siskiyou Pink’  and was totally underwhelmed. The little pale pink flowers were floppy and simply got lost among all the stronger colors and larger flowers in my perennial garden.

Then, one winter weekend, we had to quickly dig up all the plants in the garden where Siskiyou Pink was planted to make room for a new septic tank, and I decided to throw it away, rather than try to overwinter it in a container.

To be honest, I’d basically written off Gaura’s as not being garden-worthy.

A Frenzy of Whirling Butterflies

Gaura Whirling Butterflies, Connecticut gardenAll that changed this spring when I bought some Gaura lindheimeri ‘Whirling Butterflies’ for containers for one of my garden design clients.

I was looking for something fun and whimsical to add to the containers so I grabbed some Whirling Butterflies on a whim.

Well, it turns out Whirling Butterflies was a little too whimsical for my client so I brought it home and added it to one of my containers. Boy, oh boy – was her loss my gain!

Gaura Whirling Butterflies flower close upI LOVE this plant, it really shines in a container where the delicate flowers can float above the other plants, like, well…whirling butterflies.

It has been blooming non stop since mid-May with no signs of slowing down. The spent flowers basically fall right off. Every once in a while I’ll run my fingers through it to give them a little help falling off, but that’s it.

Bee feeding on nectar from Gaura Whirling ButterfliesI’ve seen Gaura lindheimeri’s common name listed as both butterfly blossom and bee blossom and I have to say, at least in my garden, it’s a major attraction for the bees. When a bee lands on a flower, it literally dances in mid-air as the weight of the bee makes the flower look like it’s on springs. It’s great fun to watch.

While I’m still not sure I’ll plant Gaura lindheimeri again in my garden, I’ll definitely use it again in containers.  If you’re thinking about adding some whimsy and whirl to your garden, here’s the low-down on Whirling Butterflies.

♦  Thrives in full sun to part shade and is not fussy about soil

♦  Native to the prairies and pinelands of Texas & Louisiana

♦  Grows to about 24″ tall and 18″ wide

♦  Considered deer and rabbit resistant

♦  Hardy in zones 5 – 9

Design Recommendations

♦  If you do decide to use Gaura lindheimeri in your garden, I’d recommend planting it in multiples to make a statement. If you only have room for one plant, consider using it in a container.

♦  The flowers are floppy so it will appreciate support from its neighbors, especially those in front. Giving Gaura lindheimeri some support will also help the flowers to float and flit above the foliage and really let it shine.

♦  Since it moves so easily, from a gentle breeze or a bee alighting on a blossom, it would be best planted in an area where you can easily enjoy all the whirling, swirling, twisting and turning.