Buddleias or butterfly bush is a perfect background plant for the sun garden and a terrific butterfly magnet. Butterfly bush is really a woody shrub. It loses its leaves and dies back to the ground every year. In the spring (late spring - be patient) new growth emerges from the roots.
Buddleia bush develop into a large arching shrub and coves itself with wands of fragrant flowers late in the season.
Grow Buddleia in well-drained, fertile soil in full sun. Once established they are very drought tolerant. When planting, give it plenty of room. Depending on the cultivar it can get well over 5 feet wide. Buddleias benefit from pruning their woody stems back sometime in March or April. Plant in spring or fall. Space 5-7 feet apart. Shorter varieties, such as Blue Chip can be spaced 3-4 feet apart.
Pruning How much to prune depends on your taste. I prune about 6-8 inches from the ground, but I know gardeners that prune all the way to the ground. Pruning back hard gives Buddleias beautiful shape and form that you will appreciate.
Slow To Start
Buddleias are very late to break dormancy. Here in Michigan, Buddleias often ‘wake up' well into late May. Once the weather starts to warm up, you will really see Buddleias take off and grow rapidly. I love butterfly bushes and cannot imagine a sun garden without them. For the butterfly garden, Buddleias are a highly desirable nectar source for butterflies all summer.
Buddleias should be planted in the back of the border. They add a much needed anchor and vertical element to the perennial garden. They also make an excellent hedge plant. Give them plenty of space. Blue Chip is a dwarf type that is ideal when planted in groups of 3 or more.