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The Truth About Butterflies and Buddleja vs. Native Plants

By clintbrown
December 8, 2013

I recently learned that some native plant promoters are claiming that gardeners should not grow Buddleja (Butterfly Bush) because it fools butterflies into thinking it is a host plant. They claimed that the butterflies would deposit their eggs on the Buddleja and the offspring would die because Buddleja is not a proper host plant. However, I researched this claim and found it to be 100% FALSE!

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Name: Ann ~Heat zn 9, Sunset
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flaflwrgrl
Dec 7, 2013 6:08 PM CST
Very nice article Clint. Thanks for the great information. Smiling Thumbs up
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4susiesjoy
Dec 7, 2013 6:20 PM CST
I agree And beautiful pictures too! Thumbs up
Name: Linda
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LindaTX8
Dec 7, 2013 6:50 PM CST
I don't know who told you that, but I know both butterfly people and native plant people and nobody I know has ever said that.
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Name: Melanie Long
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mellielong
Dec 7, 2013 7:17 PM CST
Linda, I had never heard that either. In Florida, I know we have to be careful due to the invasive nature of the plant, but that's the only warning I've ever heard about butterfly bush.

Oddly enough, I found out this year that there is a plant that will fool the Long-Tailed Skipper. It will lay its eggs on Wooly Pipevine (Aristolochia tomentosa) even though it is not a proper host plant for that butterfly; it is a host for the Pipevine Swallowtail and Polydamas Swallowtail which is why I planted it. When I saw Long-Tailed Skipper eggs on it I was thoroughly confused but I read a blog on the internet where a lady had the same thing happen and she consulted a professor (I believe it was at UF) and he confirmed the phenomenon. The leaves of Wooly Pipevine feel very similar to the butterfly pea or even plain green beans that the skipper uses, but I would think it would "taste" different to the butterfly. Apparently, it doesn't because I had eggs all over it. Luckily, I also grow butterfly pea so I have plenty of the "real" host plant for the Long-Tailed Skipper. Just thought I'd share in case anyone else chooses to grow the plant.
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beckygardener
Dec 7, 2013 7:46 PM CST
Clint - All I have ever heard about Butterfly Bush is it's invasiveness here in FL. I will check out that link you posted for some cultivars that don't produce seeds. Nice butterfly shots!!!

For some reason, I have NO luck growing Buddleia. It always dies on me. I think I overwater it.

Melanie - Interesting info about the skippers. Don't skippers also use canna leaves as their host?
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Name: josephine
Arlington, Texas (Zone 8a)
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frostweed
Dec 7, 2013 9:28 PM CST
I think the skipper the uses Cannas is the Brazilian Skipper.
I never heard of Butterfly Bush being a larval host, but it is a good nectar host plant if you are not concerned about whether it is native or not.
I don't use it because it is not native and because it is listed as an invasive in Texas. Smiling
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Marilyn
Dec 7, 2013 10:29 PM CST
flaflwrgrl said:Very nice article Clint. Thanks for the great information. Smiling Thumbs up


I agree Hurray! Thumbs up

Welcome to the Agastache and Salvias Forum!

Hummingbirds are beautiful flying jewels in the garden!


Name: Marilyn
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Marilyn
Dec 7, 2013 10:29 PM CST
4susiesjoy said: I agree And beautiful pictures too! Thumbs up


I agree Hurray! Thumbs up

Welcome to the Agastache and Salvias Forum!

Hummingbirds are beautiful flying jewels in the garden!


Name: Clint Brown
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clintbrown
Dec 8, 2013 2:25 AM CST
Thanks everyone for all the nice comments and acorns! I saw the misinformation on Facebook. There was a speaker that goes around "educating" people about native plants that said it. I'm the type who never believes what I read without searching for info. I was so amazed about butterflies sensing chemicals with their legs! I actually appreciate them more now that I learned more about them. It's amazing to me that they are also able to identify a host plant by leaf shape while flying. However, they always verify it chemically to be certain. I also learned that they can detect if other butterflies have deposited eggs and will not lay eggs on that particular plant if that is the case. This particular misinformation bothered me because the Monarch butterflies came through here in November this year. Had it not been for the butterfly bushes there would not have been much for them to visit that late in the season. I did have a few Agastache with blooms still, but the butterfly bushes were all covered with blooms.
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crittergarden
Dec 8, 2013 5:42 AM CST
Thanks Clint.
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Name: Vickie
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blue23rose
Dec 8, 2013 5:51 AM CST
Thanks Clint. I had not heard that before. I have been trying buddleja over the years but they keep dying on me.
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terrafirma
Dec 8, 2013 9:02 AM CST
Thanks so much for this article! I've not had a lot of luck with these, until this last year. I tried the 'Blue Chip', and so far, so good! Thumbs up
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canadanna
Dec 8, 2013 10:00 AM CST
This is an education. I didn't know butterfly bush was invasive! I have been trying to save this one big "bush" after moving it. Atleast I have a 'low and behold' that is ok.
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crittergarden
Dec 8, 2013 10:12 AM CST
These seem easy here.
I've argued with myself about them because they are invasive.
But they bring me swarms of Swallowtails, so I keep 3 of them.
I love my 'Black Knight'. Right now it is bookended with 'White Profusion'.
I'm after some orange or yellow to replace the white with.
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fiwit
Dec 8, 2013 11:44 AM CST
Critter, I have Weyeriana (honeycomb) and it's almost indestructible for me here in GA. You might look for that as a yellow option. I got it from High Country Gardens originally, then found another one at Lowes/Home Depot a couple years later. I have White Profusion, Black Knight, and Bi-Color, too. All do well in my yard. The only one I've ever had problems keeping alive is the one I love the most -- Buddleia Alternifolia -- have killed 2 of those, so far. Shrug!
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crittergarden
Dec 8, 2013 12:07 PM CST

Noneycomb's in my want list along with Buddleja x weyeriana 'Sungold'
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mellielong
Dec 8, 2013 9:42 PM CST
Becky, Josephine is correct. Brazilian Skippers (aka Canna Skippers) use canna leaves. They roll up the edges and hide inside.
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clintbrown
Dec 9, 2013 12:45 PM CST
Don't forget to check out the new ones that aren't invasive anywhere.
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crittergarden
Dec 9, 2013 1:28 PM CST
Which are those, Clint???? Sticking tongue out
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virginiarose
Dec 9, 2013 8:41 PM CST
Black Knight is my favorite and it gets huge. But if you hard prune it down to 12 inches in February it keeps it from getting too big. Same for all Buddleja davidii. I have Asian Moon and Miss Molly and they are said to be sterile. I have had black knight the longest and I cannot find anywhere that says it is sterile, but I never had a single problem and never saw any volunteer seedlings. It was the most attractive shrub I have had as far as butterflies go. I had a Honeycomb and the only thing that it attracted was bees, maybe that is why they call it Honeycomb. LOL.


http://www.oregon.gov/ODA/PLANT/NURSERY/Pages/buddleja_proce...
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