Butterfly bushes, redbud recognized

Date posted: September 13, 2012

picture of Dr. Dennis Werner and Ruby Falls, the weeping redbud Werner DevelopedDr. Dennis Werner and Ruby Falls, the weeping redbud the plant breeder developed.

New types of butterfly bushes and redbuds developed by a North Carolina State University plant breeder are attracting attention around the world.

New butterfly bushes and redbuds developed by Dr. Dennis Werner, JC Raulston Distinguished Professor of Horticultural Science, won awards at a major plant show held recently in the Netherlands.

Two butterfly bushes, or buddleias, along with a redbud were award winners at Plantarium, a major plant show held in Boskoop, the Netherlands, in late August. Werner said the show attracts plant marketers, vendors and sellers from across Europe. According to the Plantarium website, this year’s show attracted 320 exhibitors and more than 17,000 visitors.

Werner said a buddleia he developed called Lilac Chip won the Color My World Award. He added that the award is based on a vote by show attendees and that Lilac Chip was judged the best at the show in the last 10 years.

Picture of Lilac Chip buddleia

Lilac Chip buddleia has pinkish purple flowers and is small even for a dwarf buddleia.

In addition, a weeping redbud Werner developed called Ruby Falls won a silver medal, while another buddleia, called Ice Chip in the United States and White Chip in Europe, won a bronze medal.

All the new redbuds and butterfly bushes Werner has developed in recent years are smaller than the varieties typically available. For buddleias, which are usually gangly plants that can take over a small garden, the dwarf nature of Werner’s buddleias apparently adds to their appeal.

Lilac Chip, as the name implies, has pinkish-purple flowers and is unusually small for a butterfly bush. Ice or White Chip has white flowers and, Werner said, “a unique dense, spreading growth habit, almost like a ground cover.”

Werner has also developed dwarf buddleias with purple and blue flowers and is working on one with pink flowers.

Ruby Falls is one of three new redbuds Werner has developed. Others are Merlot, with purple leaves and reddish-purple flowers, and Whitewater, another weeping form with green and white variegated leaves and purple flowers.

Picture of Ice Chip buddleia.

Ice Chip, known as White Chip in Europe, has white flowers.

Perhaps because of their compact habit – Ruby Falls and Whitewater grow to a mature height of only 5 to 10 feet where a typical redbud is 15 to 20 feet tall – Werner said the trees are selling well in Japan as well as the United States and Europe. Japanese gardens are typically smaller than gardens in the U.S., and even a tree of moderate height like a redbud is often too large.

Werner said the trend in the nursery industry for some years has been toward more compact plants. He’s now working on redbuds that are compact as well as more tolerant of drought and heat.

Written by: Dave Caldwell, 919.513.3127 or dave_caldwell@ncsu.edu

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