Non-Invasive Butterfly Bushes

By Susan Littlefield

Butterfly bushes (Buddleia davidii) are long time garden favorites, both for their graceful, fragrant panicles of flowers, as well as for the butterflies these blooms draw to the garden. Unfortunately, there is a dark side to these shrubs. They naturalize and spread with abandon and have become an invasive threat in many parts of the country, crowding out native vegetation in a variety of habitats. Planting butterfly bush is strongly discouraged in many states, and had been banned in Oregon, under its noxious weed quarantine.

However, the Oregon Department of Agriculture (ODA) has approved the sale of certain sterile butterfly bush cultivars that have been evaluated through field studies as producing less than 2 percent viable seeds and that do not pose an invasive threat. Currently the cultivars Asian Moon, Blue Chip, Chip Jr., Ice Chip (formerly White Icing), Inspired Pink, Pink Micro Chip (pictured), and Purple Haze have been approved as demonstrated sterile plants. Also on the list are the Flutterby Grande™ series cultivars Blueberry Cobbler Nectar Bush, Peach Cobbler Nectar Bush, Sweet Marmalade Nectar Bush, Tangerine Dream Nectar Bush, Vanilla Nectar Bush; Flutterby Petite™ Snow White Nectar Bush; and Flutterby™ Pink Nectar Bush. Three interspecific hybrids have also been approved for planting; the fertility of these cultivars has not been assessed, though interspecific hybrids generally exhibit low fertility. They are the cultivars Lilac Chip, Miss Molly, and Miss Ruby. No matter where you live, these Buddleia varieties will let you enjoy butterfly bush in your garden without damaging the wider environment.

For more about ODA's butterfly bush cultivar approval process, go to ODA. (Image courtesy of Proven Winners)

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