Pruning Butterfly And Smoke Bushes - Knowledgebase Question

Butler, PA
Question by gshannon2
April 4, 2001
Is it necessary to prune buddleia petite butterfly bushes and if so how far down,also rabbits pruned my smoke bush will that hurt it?

Answer from NGA
April 4, 2001


The buddleias are usually pruned each spring at the gardener's discretion. Butterfly bush should be pruned in the spring to shape and encourage new growth since it blooms on new wood of the season. When pruning, first off, there may be some die
back or winter kill after the winter season and that should be removed. In some years this
could mean cutting it nearly to the ground. In other milder years this might be just a few
branch tips. Next, you can prune for shapeliness and to encourage bushiness or
branching; you can also prune to try to limit its overall size. The plant has a naturally
gangly shape and can grow straggly in one season, so some gardeners will opt to prune
more than others. Finally, each cut will force the plant to branch and each branch tip will
bloom, so you can also influence the number of blooms. Some gardeners will deadhead the flowers as they fade to help the bush bloom over a longer period.

The smoke bush blooms on old wood, so you may not have any blooms this year depending on how much of it is gone. Some gardeners will purposely prune smoke bush back very hard each spring. This causes lots of straight new shoots from the base of the plant and it also makes the leaves grow larger than normal. If you have a purple leafed form, this makes a very dramatic statement in the garden.

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