Ask a Question forum: Butterfly bush

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Fairfield Connecticut
Laura0703
Aug 17, 2017 10:40 AM CST
Howdy!

I have an area of my property that was covered with heavy brush. We had to use a strong herbacide to clear the area and so have left the area empty this summer.

Next spring I want to establish a perennial butterfly garden in this area. To this end I have started some butterfly bushes in a grow bag. They are about 7 or 8 inches tall now (mid August). I have attached a picture for your reference.

My question is how to care for them over the winter. The seed packet said it takes 365 days to bloom. Should I place the grow bag near the place where they eventually will go? Since they are not going to bloom this year they won't be dropping any seeds. I don't think the ground is ready to receive them yet. Should I bring them into my very small house for the winter? Do they need the cold snap? Would it be too cold to put the bag in the unheated shed? Please advise.

Should I break up the plants into individual pots now or just wait for spring to plant directly into the ground. Also, any other advice you can give would be great. I live in Fairfield if that makes it easier for you.

Thank you in advance for your time and help. I look forward to hearing from you soon.
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Name: Yardenman
Maryland (Zone 7a)
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Yardenman
Aug 17, 2017 11:05 AM CST
Laura0703 said:Howdy!

I have an area of my property that was covered with heavy brush. We had to use a strong herbacide to clear the area and so have left the area empty this summer.

Next spring I want to establish a perennial butterfly garden in this area. To this end I have started some butterfly bushes in a grow bag. They are about 7 or 8 inches tall now (mid August). I have attached a picture for your reference.

My question is how to care for them over the winter. The seed packet said it takes 365 days to bloom. Should I place the grow bag near the place where they eventually will go? Since they are not going to bloom this year they won't be dropping any seeds. I don't think the ground is ready to receive them yet. Should I bring them into my very small house for the winter? Do they need the cold snap? Would it be too cold to put the bag in the unheated shed? Please advise.

Should I break up the plants into individual pots now or just wait for spring to plant directly into the ground. Also, any other advice you can give would be great. I live in Fairfield if that makes it easier for you.

Thank you in advance for your time and help. I look forward to hearing from you soon.
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I would grow the seeds in 2" cels inside to see which sprout for sure. They will survive well in a south window or under lights until Spring. I would wait until Spring for outside planting to give the herbicide time to expire.

Butterfly bushes are pretty tough plants.

I will admit to never having grown them from seeds, but I've expanding my original couple by stem cuttings and they root well with the hormone powder,

The seeds should sprout well in a regular potting mix but might appreciate some soaked peat moss in the mix.

And don't use herbicides where you want to plant anything.
Fairfield Connecticut
Laura0703
Aug 17, 2017 11:59 AM CST
Thank you for your quick response.

So the sprouts are really baby bushes at this point. As in the picture they are about 7 to 8 inches tall. I think you're saying that I should bring them in before the frost here in connecticut.

Since there are several plants in the bag in the spring should I plant them en mass or try to separate them for individual planting. I have never planted butterfly bushes before.

Name: Daisy I
Reno, Nv (Zone 6b)
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DaisyI
Aug 17, 2017 12:12 PM CST
Hi Laura, Welcome!

You are near the lower temperature range for Buddleia so wintering over inside might be a wise choice. Plants in pots need to be hardy one to two zones lower than your zone. You are in Zone 6 and Buddleia are hardy to Zone 5. I would move them to your unheated shed for the winter (as soon as they lose their leaves). Winter time house temperatures would be death for them.

What kind of herbicide did you use? Find the package and research how long it will stay in your soil. If it was Roundup, it was gone by the time it dried. But if it was brush killer, you might be waiting another year or so. Also, some plants are more tolerant of remnant herbicides than others. You might want to check for a plant list of most affected plants.

Your little buddleia look really good and healthy. If it turns out you have to keep them potted for another year, I would repot in the spring and give them each their own space.
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

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Name: Yardenman
Maryland (Zone 7a)
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Yardenman
Aug 17, 2017 1:36 PM CST
Laura0703 said:Thank you for your quick response.

So the sprouts are really baby bushes at this point. As in the picture they are about 7 to 8 inches tall. I think you're saying that I should bring them in before the frost here in connecticut.

Since there are several plants in the bag in the spring should I plant them en mass or try to separate them for individual planting. I have never planted butterfly bushes before.



I have to LOL at myself. I saw the pictures but was remembering you mentioning "seeds"! Sorry about that.

Fairfield Connecticut
Laura0703
Aug 17, 2017 3:07 PM CST
Hi Daisyl! Thank you for responding to my question! The herbicide was called Brushtox. The label said it takes 90 days to be gone. Since I used it in late May/early June, I'm thinking planting next late May/early June will be safe.
Name: Daisy I
Reno, Nv (Zone 6b)
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DaisyI
Aug 17, 2017 8:14 PM CST
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Name: Suzanne/Sue
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Calif_Sue
Aug 17, 2017 9:42 PM CST

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Are you sure those are butterfly bushes, as in Butterfly Bushes (Buddleja) ? The leaves seem bright green and shiny, never have seen leaves quite like that on a butterfly bush.
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tx_flower_child
Aug 17, 2017 11:31 PM CST
@Calif_Sue — I was kinda thinking the same thing as you. I think the look more like Asclepias Tuberosa, also known as Butterfly Weed and maybe also Butterfly Bush. (But I was also eyeing that green pepper before looking closer.)

@Laura0703 — How many of the plants do you have? At some point you will need to take them inside, be it your house or garage or shed or whatever you have. But then again they are perennials and they are a decent size. If they were already in the ground then you could let them die back and they should return in the spring. But I guess you can't do that now. Actually, I don't know because I live in Texas. We usually get at least one snow a year but that's not like your climate. I do know that I had several types of milkweed that I never got around to putting in the ground. They were tiny little things but stayed outside all 'winter' in pots. They died back and I was very surprised when they returned in the spring and grew bigger. (Sorry. Just thinking out loud here.)

I'm a little confused when you asked, 'Since there are several plants in the bag in the spring should I plant them en mass or try to separate them for individual planting.' Currently, do you have individual plants? Or are they tangled up together?

Let me see if I can attach some pictures to see if we're talking about the same plant. Do you still have the seed packet? If so, does it have a botanical name?
Take a look at the pictures some of our members posted in this link. The leaves on your plants sure are similar. Someone posted a picture of the seeds as well. Look at all familiar?
Butterfly Weed (Asclepias tuberosa)

But I do want to compliment you on wanting to establish a perennial butterfly garden. Look for a lot of native perennials and they'll do best for you.

And welcome to NGA.
[Last edited by tx_flower_child - Aug 17, 2017 11:40 PM (+)]
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Name: David Laderoute
Zone 5B/6 - NW MO (Zone 5b)
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DavidLMO
Aug 18, 2017 12:33 AM CST
These do not need to be brought inside. They are hardy there. Heal them in someplace if you want and the plant out early next spring.

Looking back now at the original post, these are NOT Butterfly Bush. I agree they look like Butterfly Weed. It does not need to be brought in either.
Seeking Feng Shui with my plants since 1976
Fairfield Connecticut
Laura0703
Aug 18, 2017 7:45 AM CST
You are so right!

After reviewing pics online of butterfly weed that is definitely what these appear to be! That's what I get for buying seeds at home depot (an impulse buy usually I get seeds from Gurney's Nursery) and believing what the package said!

So the consensus says put them in the shed to overwinter. Should I cover with a couple of blankets? It does get down to 0F sometimes here. Also should I provide water occasionally (how occasionally?) or would wrapping in a plastic tarp and sealing trap enough humidity to sustain life?

These are individual plants.

So now I need to get a packet of real bush seeds. Any recommendations for this? The picture on the packet had orange flowers as I recall but the packet is long lost. (just completed not only a tearout and replacement of the shed but also a major renovation of the house and grounds)
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Name: Kent Pfeiffer
Southeast Nebraska (Zone 5b)
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KentPfeiffer
Aug 18, 2017 8:59 AM CST

Plants Admin

If you are truly interested in helping butterflies, the butterflyweed (Ascplepias) you have was a better choice than the butterfly bush (Buddleja) you intended to get.

Brushtox contains the herbicide triclopyr. Triclopyr breaks down fairly rapidly in soil, especially during summer months. Assuming you sprayed it at the recommended rate, it would be safe to the plant the area now. If you decide to wait until next spring, you shouldn't need to do anything special to help them overwinter. The less the better, really.
North Central TX (Zone 8a)
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tx_flower_child
Aug 18, 2017 9:00 AM CST
I don't think the consensus says put them in the shed to overwinter. Or maybe it did. But @DavidLMO is the expert and he said you don't need to bring them in.

"So now I need to get a packet of real bush seeds. Any recommendations for this?"
Don't know what you mean? What you have is a butterfly magnet. We can probably recommend a lot of native perennials that would do well in your climate. Or point you to some local experts. I might still have some other milkweed seeds that I could send you but need to look (brain drain right now) and also look to see if they're appropriate for your gardening zone. Do you know what it is? If not, there's a handy dandy way to find out. Go to the top of the screen where the little blue house is. To the right of it, scroll over to 'Tools & Apps'. Click on it and then click on the link 'Zone Lookup'.

Going to take a little morning nap and am sure someone else will jump in and suggest resources and/or plants. Whatever you get, make sure that they are native perennials. If you think about it, if something is 'native' to where you live, then it obviously grows well there. Caveat is that it might grow well there but also be invasive.
Name: Daisy I
Reno, Nv (Zone 6b)
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DaisyI
Aug 18, 2017 9:33 AM CST
Rolling on the floor laughing Rolling on the floor laughing Rolling on the floor laughing

When I first responded, I looked at those plants on my little screen and thought maybe not Butterfly Bush so started referring to it as Buddleia. I hate common names! Grumbling

I was also trying to figure out how big this garden is that Laura could plant half a dozen? My experience is that Buddleia gets 12 ft in every direction.

Never even thought of Butterfly Weed but after looking again this morning on my BIG screen, they are Ascplepias.

I'm amazed you got Ascplepias to start that well from seed. I never have any luck with them.
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

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Fairfield Connecticut
Laura0703
Aug 18, 2017 10:27 AM CST
I will try to upload some photos so you can see what the somewhat triangular (with the tip lopped off) area looks like. It measures 24 feet long at the back with a stone retaining wall. The widest part closest to the shed is 12 feet wide with an additional 5 feet that are gently sloped. The narrower part on the left rear as you face the plot is 10 feet plus the slope. A black asphalt block will be removed but a giant Boulder will have to stay (who knows how deep it is) The US Army Corps of Engineers developed this area in 1942 as military housing. (I think they dumped lots of debris in this spot) I figure it can be a feature. I will put a water feat in like a birdbath with a rippler to keep it from inviting mosquitoes. I was thinking of putting two butterfly bushes, one toward each end, sort of centered, to screen the back and put the milkweed around them. I am also thinking of putting in some sage in the area. Any comments or suggestions are welcome!
Fairfield Connecticut
Laura0703
Aug 18, 2017 10:50 AM CST
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Name: Daisy I
Reno, Nv (Zone 6b)
Not all who wander are lost
Garden Sages Plant Identifier
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DaisyI
Aug 18, 2017 6:17 PM CST
If you really feel the need for Butterfly Bushes (Buddleia), find some dwarfs - they only get about 5 ft x 5 ft. I never noticed butterflies in my Buddleia, but they sure loved the Lilacs. Maybe you should use Lilacs as your foundation plant?
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

Webmaster: osnnv.org
North Central TX (Zone 8a)
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tx_flower_child
Aug 18, 2017 6:57 PM CST
Ok. Got a msg that someone posted a reply before me. Sorry if this info might be repetitive.

You've got a lot of territory to work with! What's the sun like? Full? Partial? Shade? That's something to consider when you're choosing plants. I gather that you must have some sun or you wouldn't have that green pepper that is making me hungry.

I see that there's a CT Botanical Society which not only has good information, but has pictures, too. And I saw where it lists Asclepias tuberosa as a native. So you're off to a good start.
http://www.ct-botanical-societ...

Here's another link that tells you what plants are good for CT. The plants are listed in categories such as trees, shrubs, etc. Names are shown in both common and botanical form. Be sure to read the caveat near the bottom.
http://www.plantnative.org/rpl...

Elsewhere on that same site is an introduction to some basic concepts of landscaping with native plants, and follows that with steps you can take to get started. (There's a lot to read here and might be more than you want. Maybe skim thru it a little and decide if it's for you.)
http://www.plantnative.org/how...

This link defines invasive, etc.
https://www.invasivespeciesinf...

and then there's this link to plants that are considered to be invasive or noxious in CT.
https://plants.usda.gov/java/n...

Lot to think about. You might see if there are Master Gardeners in your county. They're people you can ask about specific plants, not landscaping. But they'll usually know if a plant does well where you live.

Aside from all those links, we are here to help.

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