So as gardeners, we are always on the hunt for the perfect plant. You know, the one that is drought tolerant, blooms it’s head off, grows fast, and loves poor soil? Well, we think we can solve those little issues for you. And if you are gardening on a budget, this plant is perfect for that too, because it grows quickly to fill empty garden space. Butterfly Bush, (Buddleia) is one of our favorite all purpose plants for the garden, and it’s easy to grow. (Like “perfect kind of plant” easy!) So let’s learn about Butterfly Bush care, pruning, and the best varieties to choose from.
About Butterfly Bush (Buddleia)
- Butterfly Bush is one of the easiest shrubs to grow. It is low maintenance, requiring little in the way of fertilizer, and is resistant to pests and disease. So you spend less on upkeep. Say that about a rose bush! The gray green leaves are the perfect backdrop for any garden, and they have a fine texture and arching shape that many gardens lack.
- It grows fast. And we mean FAST.
- Butterfly Bush will fill a corner, create a hedge or become the background of a large planting bed in one season. It grows 5-10 feet high and as wide, so it can make fast impact on your yard for little cash. Don’t bother with the $40 ten gallon size from the nursery. Buy them in four inch pots for $3, wait one season and have full size bushes!
- It attracts, of all things, butterflies!
- And occasionally hummingbirds, and the finches love to hang out there too. Forget a butterfly feeder, plant this shrub.
- It has beautiful flowers perfect for cutting, and lots of them all summer long.
- Butterfly Bush produces panicles of pretty flowers that range from a few inches to over a foot long depending on variety. The most common colors are pink and purple, but there are also blue, white and a yellow variety. The yellow happens to be fragrant as well, although the flower panicles are smaller. These all make great cut flowers on long stems, and bloom from June to September.
- Drought Resistant means it saves water (and money!) too!
Butterfly Bush Care
- Butterfly Bush will grow in poor soil, although prefers a mid range loam. Do not fertilize much as that will produce too much green growth, and make it lanky with few flowers.
- Give them room…ten feet across is not uncommon.
- Water well the first year to develop a good root system, and they are moderately drought resistant after that.
- Butterfly Bush pruning is easy. Cut back to 12-18 inches from the ground in early spring. That may sound severe, but this will create a more dense uniform plant with larger flowers. Trust us, it will rebound to its large size by June. This is the secret to attractive shrubs that make your garden look like a prize winning spot!
- Don’t be in a hurry in the spring to see new growth, as Butterfly Bush is a late sleeper. It will put out new leaves a little later than a lot of other shrubs, so be patient, it catches up fast.
- They do well down to Zone 5, and can be semi evergreen in areas that do not freeze. They are deciduous in colder areas, but since you cut it back to the ground in early spring anyway, it doesn’t matter.
- Be aware, some varieties can be invasive. If you have that problem in your area, look for “sterile” varieties that do not self seed. We are aware there is a controversy in some states about damage the species can do to wild wetlands. Do your homework and plant responsibly for your area. We do list several Butterfly Bush varieties that are non invasive below.
Our Favorite Butterfly Bush Varieties!
Tried and True, “Pink Delight” is still the industry standard and most common Butterfly Bush variety, with uniform growth and large, deep pink flowers. Another pink variety we love is called “Miss Molly”. Deep pink/ magenta, growing to 5 feet tall and wide, and hardy down to zone 5, this selection hummingbirds especially love. It is also a non invasive variety. Find this variety at ‘Bluestone Perennials‘. (One of our favorite online nurseries as well!)
If you love fragrance, try “Honeycomb”. Yellow flowers and a delicious scent.
A dwarf Butterfly Bush variety that is suitable for large containers is “Blue Chip” This is also a sterile variety that will not self seed. Grows 2 to 21/2 feet tall and wide. Find this Butterfly Bush also at ‘Bluestone Perennials‘ or ask at your local nursery.
“Purple Emperor” is a fantastic deep purple with long panicles of flowers, and for a sparkling white variety, try “White Ball” or “White Profusion”
There are dozens of varieties from local and online nurseries, even selections with variegated foliage. Butterfly Bush is a proven winner that will quickly establish an attractive, full garden for little money, and basic upkeep. We think you will also love our posts on 10 No Fail Perennials for Low Water Gardens and How to Grow Lavender Like the French!Image Credits: Bluestone Perennials, Bluestone Perennials