In midsummer, when it’s almost too hot to garden, it’s time to relax and enjoy the floral show put on by buddleia, also known as butterfly bush. Check out these handy tips and add buddleia to your garden today.
A brief introduction to buddleia
- Extremely versatile, buddleias complement medium-sized flowering perennials, such as rudbeckia and purple coneflowers, and harmonize with ornamental grasses. Buddleias can combine with other shrubs, or even grow in pots.
- The long, slender leaves range from 10 to 25 centimetres (four to 10 inches) long, with green upper surfaces and silvery gray undersides, a combination that makes this shrub beautiful to behold even before it flowers.
- The cones of white, yellow, pink, blue or purple flowers, up to 30 centimetres (12 inches) long, begin to open in early summer and keep blooming until fall if spent flowers are clipped off every couple of weeks.
- In Zones 8 and 9, don’t be surprised if your butterfly bush survives some winters as an evergreen.
A haven for butterflies
Butterfly bush is enjoying a well-deserved surge in popularity because of the magic spell it casts on butterflies and the availability of colourful new cultivars.
- All cultivars attract butterflies, but the pink ‘Pink Delight’ and purple ‘Nanho Purple’ are top picks if attracting butterflies is your main mission.
- Other colours will tempt you as well, particularly the rich purple of ‘Dartmoor’, vibrant lilac of ‘Empire Blue’, red-violet of ‘Royal Red’ and white of ‘White Bouquet’.
- Although Buddleja davidii is the most popular type for cold regions, a few similar species are equally easy to grow in Zones 8 and 9.
- For distinctive yellow flowers there is B. globosa; B. lindleyana produces pendulous violet flower clusters up to 25 centimetres (10 inches) in length.
The right way to grow buddleia
- As long as they can bask in the sun and are anchored in well-drained soil, buddleia thrive on neglect. They laugh at drought and rarely wilt.
- Container-grown plants demand regular watering and fertilizing with a balanced fertilizer to remain at their healthiest.
- To ensure continuous flowers on attractive bushes, prune the whole plant back to 30 to 60 centimetres (12 to 25 inches) in late winter or early spring. Butterfly bushes quickly recover and add on 1.8 to two metres (six to 6.5 feet) by fall.
- To encourage reblooming, remove spent flowers.
- Established plants are satisfied by a springtime half-strength application of organic or timed-release, balanced fertilizer.
- Buddleia has no serious problems with insects or disease.
This tall, deciduous, flowering shrub and the many butterflies, bees and other insects that visit its nectar-rich blossoms are a focal point in any summer garden. Keep these handy tips in mind and you can grow healthy buddleia in no time!