Division of Agriculture releases new butterfly bushes

Contact Information:

Jon Lindstrom, Associate Professor, Horticulture
479-575-2646 / tranell@uark.edu
Don Dombek, Director, Arkansas Crop Variety Improvement Program
479-575-6884 / ddombek@uark.edu

By Fred Miller, University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture
479-575-5647 / fmiller@uark.edu

Download story
Plant breeder Jon Lindstrom

Plant breeder Jon Lindstrom examines "Orange Sceptre," one of two new buddleja, or butterfly bushes, released by the University of Arkansas System's Division of Agriculture.

"Orange Sceptre" is one of two new buddleja, or butterfly bushes, released by the University of Arkansas System's Division of Agriculture. UA plant breeder Jon Lindstrom developed the plants.

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — The University of Arkansas System's Division of Agriculture has released two new varieties of Buddleja, also known as butterfly bushes because their blooms and nectar attract butterflies.

Plant breeder Jon Lindstrom said the new plants, named Orange Sceptre and Winter Waterfall, are suitable for greenhouses and conservatories. Orange Sceptre survives outdoors over winter in Arkansas but, if planted outside, Lindstrom recommends growing the plant in a container. Because Buddleja is a prolific non-native plant, the complete flower heads should be removed after blooming to prevent seed production.

Lindstrom, associate professor of horticulture, bred a sterile Buddleja, called Asian Moon that was released by the Division of Agriculture in 2006. Because it produces no seed, it's more suitable to outdoor gardens, he said.

Orange Sceptre and Winter Waterfall resulted from a breeding program begun in 1999.
Lindstrom said the most striking characteristic of Orange Sceptre is its unique orange blooms. "This is a new color in Buddleja," he said. "It attracts hummingbirds as well as butterflies."

Orange Sceptre flowers well and has a long bloom time. In a greenhouse, Lindstrom said, it flowers year-round. Outdoors, flowering on new growth begins in late spring and, because it can tolerate temperatures that dip into the mid- to high-20s, it flowers well into late fall. An herbaceous perennial, it dies back to the ground in winter and grows back in the spring.

The plant has an upright and open growth habit, grows about 6 feet per year and can reach heights of more than 8 feet at maturity. Each cyme, or flower cluster, produces 15 to 24 flowers that are orange when open.

Winter Waterfall has a spreading, open growth habit and mature plants reach a height of about 10 feet. It produces clusters of white flowers in drooping panicles. It blooms from November through March.

Both Orange Scepter and Winter Waterfall should be pruned immediately after flowering. Pruning on Winter Waterfall should cease in mid-summer to allow proper development of flower heads during the short days in fall.

The plants tolerate dry soils but grow best on moist, well-drained soil and prefer neutral pH. They grow best in full-sun and, in greenhouses, adapt readily to cool winter night temperatures down to around 50 degrees Fahrenheit.

Lindstrom said several nurseries have expressed interest in the plants, especially Orange Sceptre because of its unique color. He expects them to be available in nurseries by next year. These and other garden plants bred by the Division of Agriculture will be available at the annual U of A Horticulture Club plant sale in April.

Lindstrom, a self-described "plant geek," can often be found in a greenhouse making careful crosses between ornamental plants, looking for a combination that will produce something interesting and useful for the home or garden. He expects to release three more ornamental plants by the end of 2008.