For Release On Or After 04/25/14
By Dan GillLSU AgCenter Horticulturist
Buddleia Flutterby Petite Tutti Frutti Pink is a Louisiana Super Plants selection for spring 2014. I know the variety name is a mouthful, but it is well worth remembering and looking for at your local nurseries.
The common name for buddleia is butterfly bush because the colorful, fragrant spikes of flowers are powerfully attractive to butterflies. This has made planting buddleias popular for butterfly gardens or gardeners trying to invite butterflies into their landscapes.
In the past, the butterfly bush varieties available tended to be vigorous, large-growing (easily reaching 8 feet) shrubby plants. Cutting them back hard in the spring each year would help control their size. But still, these were plants that needed plenty of space to grow.
In recent years, breeders have been attempting to tame these large butterfly bushes into more compact plants with the ability to produce continuous flushes of flowers through the summer. A number of years ago, the LSU AgCenter Hammond Research Station began planting numerous new varieties to see how well they would grow and perform in Louisiana. Characteristics such as compactness, long flowering, resistance to root rot and overall garden performance were of particular interest.
After evaluating a large number of varieties, Flutterby Petite Tutti Frutti Pink exhibited the outstanding characteristics that lead to it being named a Louisiana Super Plant selection.
Here’s how the variety name came about. Plant breeding programs often produce plants in what is called a series. A series is the result of a breeding program that produces a group of plants that are very similar in how they grow but differ in a characteristic, such as flower color.
Ball Horticulture produced a series of buddleias called the Flutterby series. Varieties in this series came in a variety of colors and grew to be up to 6 feet tall. Ball Horticultural then produced a series of more compact-growing buddleias called Flutterby Petite in several colors. This is the series that Flutterby Petite Tutti Frutti Pink belongs to. It is one of the colors in that series, which also includes Blue Heaven, Snow White and Dark Pink.
But it is Tutti Frutti Pink that really wowed evaluators at the Hammond Research Station. This plant is simply that unique. Last summer I went to look at the collection of buddleias growing at the station. So many different varieties and series included different heights and many colors, including white, rose, pink, lavender and purple. But when I came to the Flutterby Petite Tutti Frutti Pink, I was stopped in my tracks.
To begin with, this variety is very compact and has an attractive mounding growth habit that sets it off from all other buddleias. The ends of the branches are slightly weeping, making the plants look like domes. Like most buddleias, the foliage is narrow and an attractive dark green with a silvery underside.
The number of deep pink flower spikes on Tutti Frutti Pink was very impressive. Buddleias produce their flowers in long, tapering spikes that may be erect or drooping. Flutterby Petite Tutti Frutti Pink produces abundant flower spikes in flushes from late spring through fall. This abundant flowering, outstanding color and unique, compact shape were the primary characteristics that led to its selection as a Louisiana Super Plant.
Buddleias need excellent drainage. During hot, rainy weather in late summer, root rot can be an issue. While Flutterby Petite Tutti Frutti Pink has not exhibited major issues with root rot in trials, it is still a good idea to put these plants in raised beds generously amended with organic matter.
This variety of buddleia will grow to be only 30 to 36 inches tall and about 30 inches wide. Space them in the bed 2 to 3 feet apart, and spread an inch or two of your favorite mulch over the bed after planting.
While the young plants are establishing in the first few weeks after planting, pay careful attention to watering. Water occasionally if the weather is dry and you see the plant wilting slightly. But don’t overdo it. Keeping the bed constantly wet will encourage root rot.
Once these plants are established, they are quite drought-tolerant, and you will only need to water during extended periods with no rainfall. This makes Flutterby Petite Tutti Frutti Pink a great plant to combine with other bedding plants that don’t need a lot of water, such as periwinkles, gaillardia and zinnias.
Although it is not critical, I recommend regularly deadheading this buddleia to keep it looking fresh and attractive. Simply use some pruning scissors to snip off the faded flower spikes or snap them off with your fingers.
From a planting in spring or early summer, Flutterby Petite Tutti Frutti Pink buddleia will bloom in continuous flushes until fall. When the first freezes of winter come, the plants will go dormant. But they are quite hardy here in Louisiana and will return to grow and bloom for many years. Give them a light trimming as you begin to see new growth to keep them shapely and attractive, and they will provide colorful spikes of fragrant, deep pink flowers for years to come.
And don’t forget, buddleias are called butterfly bushes for a very good reason. They are among the most reliable plants for attracting butterflies into your landscape. The flowers are rich in nectar and are fed upon by many different butterfly species. Flutterby Petite Tutti Frutti Pink is the perfect addition to butterfly gardens.
For more information on Louisiana Super Plants program, go to www.lsuagcenter.com/superplants
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