The Q&A Archives: Pruning Butterfly Bushes

Question: Last spring I purchased 2 beautiful pink butterfly bushes. They have bloomed so much and have reminded me of lilac bushes. Now that the blossoms are spent where should I deadhead them? I think new flowers come from previous season growth so how far down should I go from the spent flowers to deadhead? It is hot here so is it okay to deadhead now? Is there anything else I should be doing? Thank you for your advice.
Jeanne Glusman

Answer: You may deadhead butterfly bush if you like. In this heat, I'd suggest cutting each bloom off one by one, rather than shearing. Shearing in the summer is too stressful for the plant, removing too much foliage. If you look carefully at a bloom stem, you will see that there are smaller flower buds just below the large one to each side of it. If you cut at the base of the large bloom, directly above a set of leaves at the base, and avoid damaging the small side buds, they will also open and extend your bloom period. Water your plant deeply and thoroughly and as infrequently as possible (i.e., don't waterlog the soil). Spread a layer of organic mulch around the base to cool soil temperatures and maintain moisture. Then, enjoy your butterfly bush!

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