Ask a Question forum: My Dwarf Butterfly Bushes Are Dying

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Plainfield, IN - 6a
Jul 8, 2017 8:13 AM CST
I live in Plainfield, IN, in zone 6a, I think. In mid-May I planted three dwarf butterfly bushes on the north side of the house. They get full morning sun, a little shade in mid afternoon and full evening sun. I didn't fertilize the soil before planting. I just dug up the ground, laid some black weed cloth and put chipped marble over the top. I water them three times a week after the sun goes down, if it doesn't rain.

They were really taking off, growing and blooming. It's the first time I've ever planted anything and I was so proud! Well, until they started dying. The leaves look a little wilted but are okay except on one plant to the right, a few leaves have died. They looked as if they had been burnt and there are new buds growing but the flowers are dead.

I'm so disappointed. What's happening? What did I do wrong?

Thanks in advance for your input!

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Name: Cindy
Hobart, IN zone 5
aka CindyMzone5
Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Plant Identifier
Jul 8, 2017 8:30 AM CST
It might be that the flowers are not lasting as long as expected due to the heat we've had. Do dead-head the spent flower stems back to a set of leaves. You should be seeing little new flower buds forming near those leaves. Butterfly bushes to benefit from dead-heading and will continue to display new flowers. The rock mulch may be increasing the heat around your plants, shortening the individual flower life.
Only when the last tree has died and the last river has been poisoned and the last fish has been caught will we realize that we can't eat money. Cree proverb
Name: Daisy I
Reno, Nv (Zone 6b)
Not all who wander are lost
Garden Sages Plant Identifier
Jul 8, 2017 11:45 AM CST
I agree with Shadegardener, you need to deadhead to keep them blooming. But...

Dwarf Buddleia are really popular here in the desert because they are very drought tolerant - watering 3 times a week is just too much.

The marble chips are going to be a problem somewhere down the line as Buddleia prefer slightly acidic soil. Marble is a limestone - you are slowing raising the Ph of your soil (making it more alkaline).

Is your black weed cloth made of plastic or is it permeable to moisture? If its plastic, the soil will sour because it can't breath. Plants aren't fond of that either; their roots will suffocate.
Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and proclaiming...."WOW What a Ride!!" -Mark Frost

Plainfield, IN - 6a
Jul 8, 2017 1:33 PM CST
Sighing! I guess putting the gravel down was the wrong thing to do. The weed fabric is cloth, not plastic. Daisy and Cindy, thank you very much for your response! Thank You!

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