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Growing a Butterfly Bush

These vigorous plants give you beautiful, late summer and fall flowers. This guide is about growing a butterfly bush.


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1 found this helpful
February 13, 2006 Flag

Botanical Name:

Buddleja davidii

Life Cycle:

perennial shrub

Planting Time:

spring or fall


4' to 10'


full sun


rich, moist, well-drained soil; drainage is a must


zones 5 to 9

Bloom Time:

late spring to early summer


pink, fuchsia, light blue, lavender flowers on spikes




seeds, semi-hardwood cuttings

Suggested Use:

shrub (south of zone 6 ) or perennial (northern zones) for foundation plantings, butterfly gardens or backdrops for beds and borders

Growing Hints:

Start indoors from seeds in mid to late winter, purchase small potted plants (they grow fast), or start from semi-hardwood cuttings in early spring or fall. Plants make flowers on new stems so cut them back hard each spring (to the ground in the North and to a foot above ground in the South).

Interesting Facts:

For continuous flowers all summer, trim spent flower clusters off just above a set of leaves and plants will send out two new spikes to replace the one you cut off. As they name suggests, the Butterfly Bush is very attractive to butterflies.
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1 found this helpful
June 11, 2012 Flag

Butterfly bushes are wonderful, large bushes with all different colors of flowers. If you buy one from a garden center (in a pot), you will know what you'll get for flowers. Be aware that they get very big (at least in California they do). They like full sun, once established, they don't need much water at all. They will attract butterflies, hummingbirds, and bumble bees. I prune mine "hard" every winter, down to knee-high, so they don't get totally out of hand. The one winter I did not prune, they reached 15 feet tall! I have a tri-color (white, lilac, deep purple) and a yellow bush, and love them. They transplant fairly well, and will spread via roots and seeds.

Related Content(article continues below)

Source: My yard...

By Eileen from Elk Grove, CA

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Ask a QuestionHere are the questions asked by community members. Read on to see the answers provided by the ThriftyFun community or ask a new question.

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May 14, 2013 Flag

My plants are all woody and look dead. Are they or are they just not growing at this time in May? I live in the north.

By Diana

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May 31, 20130 found this helpful

I trim my butterfly bushes down in early Spring to about 8 inches. It takes awhile, but they will start to grow from the ground up when the weather warms. I live in the North as well, and they do look like they are dead in the Spring, but they are not.

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April 14, 2010 Flag

My Butterfly Bush is not doing so well this spring. There are some green leaves starting to show at the ground level, but usually it is totally green by now and thriving.

I'm wondering if a vole or mole attacked it from under the ground. If so, will it make it back this year? The picture of it was taken last spring. I put repellent around it and that has saved other plants from the critters.

Hardiness Zone: 6b

By Susan from Florissant, MO

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April 15, 20100 found this helpful

Try cutting the bush down to the ground and see if that does the trick. I cut mine back every spring and then it takes off, by fall it's about 5 feet tall again.

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April 22, 20100 found this helpful

Butterfly Bushes often die back to the ground in colder climates. You don't have that happen every year there in Florissant (I used to live in Ferguson) but you may have been colder than average or had more fluctuations last winter. Many people just treat them like perennials instead of shrubs, and prune to the ground in spring, regardless.

So, don't worry about it. Just cut it back, feed and mulch it and stand back! It will grow fast. The blooms may be slightly later, but may actually be larger.

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0 found this helpful
May 26, 2012 Flag

My daughter received a little package of butterfly bush seeds at a wedding recently. How do I plant them?

By Susanna

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Share on ThriftyFunCheck out these photographs. Click at right to share your own photo in this guide.

July 26, 2015 Flag

Photo Description
How terribly apropos.

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July 28, 20150 found this helpful

Yay! You lured one. Maybe there will be more.

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1 found this helpful
August 4, 2005 Flag

With all the craziness in the world there is still some beauty to be found. Instead of chasing this guy around the yard with a net, I caught him with my camera. Not only is the Butterfly Bush as flashy as a fireworks display, but it is also sweetly fragrant and attracts the nicest characters.

By Dineen

A Visitor to the Butterfly Bush

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August 8, 20050 found this helpful

What a beautiful picture! I haven't been having a good few days, but just looking at that picture made me feel better! There is wonder and beauty all around us if we are open to appreciating it. Thanks for sending it!

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1 found this helpful
September 27, 2007 Flag

Butterfly on Butterfly Bush in my backyard.

By Mary Lou from Abingdon, MD

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September 20, 20070 found this helpful

I had a huge butterfly bush for years. All of a sudden it just died, one spring it just did not come back, I miss it. I just love your pics, thanks for sharing.

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