How to Grow Butterfly Bush (Buddleia)

How to grow butterfly bush (buddleia)

The butterfly bush or buddleia is one of the most beautiful plants to add to a landscape, with its massive long trusses as blossoms. Some buddleia varieties grow to be small trees reaching ten feet in height. The flowers come in white, pink, light purple, and deep dark purple color, with light purple being the butterflies’ favorite.

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Though it is called butterfly bush, buddleia is not a host plant for butterfly larvae. The flowers provide food for all wildlife, including hummingbirds. The plant itself does not support a pollinator lifecycle like milkweed, and other host plants do.


Invasiveness warning

The butterfly bush is native to China. It is considered invasive in US soil, especially in warm climates, and reseeds itself easily, smothering other native plants. It would be best to deadhead the flowers before they drop the seeds to keep the shrub contained. Also, check with your local nursery or extension office for recommendations on hybridized sterile varieties.

Butterfly Bush substitutions

Some plants are just as attractive and pollinator-friendly as buddleia.

How to grow butterfly bush (buddleia)

Planting butterfly bush

Butterfly bush thrives in a full sun location, so do not plant it where it gets less than six hours of direct light. It also does not like wet feet, so well-draining soil is essential.

  • Dig a hole that is slightly bigger than the root ball.
  • Place the plant in the hole with the top of the root ball a bit higher than the soil level.
  • Backfill the hole with native soil.
  • Mound the soil around the base of the plant to allow water to run out of the root ball.
  • Water thoroughly and immediately after planting.
How to grow butterfly bush (buddleia)

How to care for butterfly bush?

  • Avoid amending the soil to prevent moisture retention, which may kill buddleia due to root rot.
  • Do not mulch around butterfly bushes for the same reason explained previously.
  • Do not fertilize butterfly bush to promote more bloom instead of foliage.
  • Prune your buddleias in Spring after it starts to leaf out. Fall pruning makes the plant more susceptible to winter damage.
  • It is essential to prune the butterfly bush to encourage even bloom distribution.
  • Buddleia is an excellent drought-tolerant plant, and overwatering it may cause root rot, weak stems, and fewer blooms. Water once a week in the summer if there is no rain.
  • It is best to plant buddleia inSpringg to give it enough time to establish itself before winter.
  • Remove spent flowers to promote more bloom and prevent self-seeding.
How to grow butterfly bush (buddleia)

How to propagate butterfly bush?

As we mentioned before, butterfly bush seeds easily. However, in case you got your hand on a sterile one, there is another way to propagate it, and that is by rooting cuttings.

  • Make a clean cut on new growth.
  • Remove the side leaves, leaving only the tip growth.
  • Dip in a rooting hormone, honey, or cinnamon.
  • Insert in a pot filled with well-draining soil.
  • Water thoroughly.
  • Make a greenhouse tent by covering the plant with a clear plastic bag.
  • Place in a cool shady spot outdoors or a well-lit area indoors.
  • It should take a few weeks to develop roots.
  • Gently pull the young plant. If you feel resistance, that means roots are established.

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