The Butterfly Bush (Buddleia davidii) is a nectar rich plant that attracts dozens of species of butterflies in addition to hummingbirds, bees and beneficial insects. It produces masses of beautiful fragrant flowers from June through September and is hardy in USDA zones 5 – 9.
Butterfly bushes are magnets for butterflies since they can reach the plant’s nectar easily. The flowers have shallow receptacles that harbor a high percentage of sucrose, an energy fuel. They also emit a honey-like fragrance, making them irresistible to butterflies. Unlike other summer plants, butterfly bushes provide a food source late into the growing season. Wildlife can feast on them after other supplies have been depleted.
Butterfly bushes are viewed by some as invasive plants since they aren’t native and can spread. However, it’s easy to control their growth with a little pruning. Their pros definitely outweigh their cons. They have many virtues, including:
· Easy to grow
· Drought tolerant
· Long panicles of fragrant flowers
· Profuse blooms until fall
· Valuable food source for wildlife
· Deer resistant
Types and Care
There are currently over 100 varieties available in different hues of purple, red, pink and white colors. Sizes now include dwarf types (‘Blue Chip’ and ‘Pink Chip’) for small gardens and containers. Larger sizes are typically planted as a backdrop in gardens since they can grow up to 6 – 12 feet high.
Butterfly bushes should be planted in full sun (minimum of 6 hours/day) and well-drained soil. They will tolerate periods of drought but not wet soil. They need plenty of extra room to grow so plant them a distance of about 5 to 10 feet apart. When planting, follow these simple steps:
1. Dig a whole that’s twice the diameter of the plant container.
2. Place the plant in the hole so that the top of the root ball is the same level as the soil surface.
3. Mix a layer of compost in the soil to lightly fertilize.
4. Water the plant thoroughly.
5. Cover with a 2 inch layer of mulch for moisture retention and winter protection.
Butterfly bushes bloom on new wood each year and should be pruned hard in early spring (after the last frost and before new buds appear). Cut them down to almost ground level in order to encourage new growth. Also, remove spent blooms during the growing season for a longer lasting flower display.
For more information about butterfly bushes, contact Floral & Hardy of Skippack at 610-584-0797