The Q&A Archives: Selecting Butterfly Bushes

Question: Good morning and thanks for offering the Q&A site. My daughter and I are planning a butterfly garden. We have a perfect large sunny area in the backyard & lots of good soil. Need your advice on selecting Buddleia. At garden centers several sizes are offered. From 1/2 gal up to a monster 8 gal size. What could we expect realistically (height, width, flowering) the first season from a 1 gal size plant? Salespeople tell us 6-8 feet. Is this wishful thinking? Plants we saw in the 8 gal buckets had LOTS of branches & canes, whereas the smaller sizes did not. I realize this is due to the plants age and root system. How long does it take for a 1 gal size to grow and be comparable to the larger sizes offered? We have an area for at least 4 large bushes. I am trying to be $$ conscious because there are other nectar and host plants we expect to purchase.

Thanking you in advance for your time, assistance and expert advice.

Answer: Buddleia davidii is probably the best choice of butterfly bush for your gardening region. These plants provide fast, rank growth each summer (from 3-10 feet, depending upon moisture supplied and soil type). If you get freezing weather, the soft wood will freeze down to the ground, but the hardy roots will send out new stems in the spring. Older wood will remain if you don't get a freeze, and will send out side-shoots, which will produce flowers in the summer time. To keep plants under control, prune out some of the older wood each year after blooming has stopped.

Buddleia is a vigorously growing plant and you can save money by purchasing plants in one-gallon containers. They will fill in the alloted spaces in one or two growing seasons.

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