Growing a Butterfly Bush

Category Perennials
These vigorous plants give you beautiful, late summer and fall flowers. This page is about growing a butterfly bush.
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February 13, 2006

Botanical Name:

Buddleja davidii

Life Cycle:

perennial shrub

Planting Time:

spring or fall

Height:

4' to 10'

Exposure:

full sun

Soil:

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

Hardiness:

zones 5 to 9

Bloom Time:

late spring to early summer

Flower:

pink, fuchsia, light blue, lavender flowers on spikes

Foliage:

green

Propagation:

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).
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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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May 19, 2005

Be sure to cut your Butterfly Bushes right back to 4 - 6 inches from the ground in the spring.

Since the growth comes from the ground you need to keep them trimmed quite low.

Some people trim them back right to ground level but I leave a bit of the trunk showing.

Butterfly Bushes can also be controlled by trimming them back throughout the season. They won't mind one bit, nor will the butterflies.

By Sandra Hemstock

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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.

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Be aware that they get very big (at least in California they do).

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Questions

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March 22, 2017

I've bought a buddlia dwarf ivory buzz. Is it a good idea to put it in the allotment or will the butterflies etc. eat all the greens? It will be in a container. Thanks.

Answers

March 23, 20170 found this helpful

They can spread where you don't want them. Make sure you don't let them go to seed. Deadhead them and pick up all debris from your lawn. The birds that come will come for the nectar. I don't think the butterflies will eat the greens.

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March 25, 20170 found this helpful

This makes a very good container plant but you still have to be watchful and deadhead it often and keep it clean around the container.

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This is considered an invasive plant in many states and is either banned or people are encouraged not to plant it. Still, it is a beautiful plant and the butterflies love it.
Here is an excerpt from one states web site:

Deadheading required for optimal blooms and to control potential seeding. If you can't/won't deadhead, seek out an alternative plant solution.
Japanese beetles eat some of the blooms. If there are too many, we flick them into a bucket of soapy water. They usually prefer eating fruits and vegetables though.
Butterflies love liquid not greens.

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April 14, 2010

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.

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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

Answers

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.

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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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May 14, 2013

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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May 26, 2012

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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Photos

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August 4, 2005

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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September 27, 2007

Butterfly on Butterfly Bush in my backyard.

By Mary Lou from Abingdon, MD

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I haven't seen a butterfly on our butterfly bush in quite a while and then this little fellow shows up today, October 3rd. It looks like a monarch to me.

Butterfly on Butterfly Bush - butterfly on flower

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How terribly apropos.

A butterfly perched on a butterfly bush.

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