The Q&A Archives: butterfly bush

Question: Does anyone know anything about the butterfly bush?

Answer: Few plants are as colorful, or fun as Butterfly Bush, Buddleia davidii. It is a joy to literally watch this plant grow inches per week and then grace us with a wonderful display of blooms from midsummer until frost. As if the large, colorful flower panicles were not enough in themselves, they have the added bonus of having a delightful, sweet aroma with the propensity to attract an equally attractive array of colorful butterflies. Who can resist the fun and beauty of Buddleia?

Native to Western China, and root hardy to zone 5, Buddleia is a deciduous shrub. Simply put, this means that although it produces woody stems, it behaves like a perennial and the leaves fall off when the weather cools. It promptly releafs in the spring. Buddleia blooms on new wood, so its floral display is best if you cut back the shrubs in the spring so it will produce lots of new flowering wood.

Buddleia typically grows to a height of 5 to 6 feet. In milder climates, it can grow twice as tall if not cut back. I find that a bushier, fuller and more floriferous plant is produced if the branch tips are pinched two or three times in the spring or early summer. Culturally, Buddleia is not demanding. It only requires full sun and decent drainage. Water is essential when establishing the plants, but once rooted in it is remarkably drought tolerant.

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