With the arrival of the new growing season quickly approaching, plant enthusiasts may choose from several new butterfly bush (Buddleia) varieties for their gardening pleasure, thanks to the College’s plant breeding work headed by Mark Brand, professor of horticulture in the Department of Plant Science and Landscape Architecture.
During the summer of 2006, doctoral graduate student Bill Smith exposed Buddleia davidii seeds to ethylmethane sulfonate (EMS) in the hope of generating some novel traits in butterfly bush. EMS is a chemical that can be used to induce a higher rate of mutations in plants. When the treated seeds were grown out in 2007, two unique individuals were identified that Brand believed were important new plants.
The first plant was a variegated individual whose leaves had a yellow edge around a dark green center. Variegated plants are always popular because the foliage adds interest even when the plant is not in bloom. The foliage variegation pattern was very stable, which is not always the case with variegated plants, and light blue flowers were also produced during the summer. After trialing this plant, Spring Meadow Nursery decided to license the new butterfly bush and include it in their Proven Winners® product line as ‘Summer Skies.’ ‘Summer Skies’ was patented (USPP 22465) and also holds Canadian Plant Breeder Rights. (more…)