The Q&A Archives: Trimming a Butterfly Bush

Question: My Butterfly bush grew to about 6' this past year....should it be cut back every year...and if so, how far back? Any guidance will be appreciated.


Walter Fessenden
Holly Springs, NC

Answer: Butterfly bushes can be pruned several ways. One method is to prune it off close to the ground to renew it if it has become overgrown and gangly, or if the winter has damaged it severely or even killed it back to the ground. This will stimulate new growth from the roots and also help to control overall size. In warmer areas, the shrubs can become very large and this pruning method occasionally makes very good sense. Some gardeners prefer to prune away any winter killed branches and then prune lightly a bit for overall shape and to encourage branching so the plant grows denser. This will result in more flowers, because the blooms form at the branch tips. It's really a matter of personal preference. If you are happy with the shape, you don't really have to prune it at all.

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