What could be more enjoyable than relaxing in your favorite lawn chair or hammock, your sunglasses on and a cool beverage in hand, staring at an enchanting array of colorful butterflies milling around their favorite plant? What could possibly be an easier way to accomplish this vision than by planting a simple butterfly bush?
When you plant a butterfly bush, you’ll get a bonus – it’s a favorite plant of many pollinators. Each one is beautiful, easy to grow, and the pollinators they bring in will add another layer of excitement to your floral display. You may want to try more than one variety to invite nature’s visitors to your home for the summer and early fall months each year.
ABOUT BUTTERFLY BUSH
Buddleia davidii, the butterfly bush, is a flowering maniac. It pushes a proliferation of perfumed blooms straight through summer and well into fall, providing nourishment to butterflies all season long. Available in a multitude of sizes & colors ranging from white to pink to red to purple, there are colorful butterfly bushes to match any garden or landscape color scheme. The fragrant, long, spiked panicles are borne in profusion on long, gracefully arching branches that add drama and elegance to the yard. And it really is a butterfly magnet!
GROWING BUTTERFLY BUSH
This quick growing, deciduous, woody shrub is winter hardy in zones 5-10. The Kalamazoo area is in zone 6a. In our hardiness range, Buddleia behaves like a herbaceous perennial, dying back to the ground in very cold winters. Cover with cedar mulch 8-12” deep after Thanksgiving to provide extra insulation for the plant. Because butterfly bush blooms on new wood, large varieties (those that get over 4 feet tall) can be cut back in the spring to 12” height. Smaller varieties should be pruned in the spring, removing any dead branches and giving the plant a nice shape. This judicious pruning will stimulate lavish new growth and an abundance of flowers. It will also keep some of the larger varieties at a manageable size, particularly in smaller yards, corners or other confined spaces.
Plant your butterfly bush in full sun in just about any type of soil and it will thrive. Don’t worry about fertilizing as over-fertilization can encourage too much leaf growth over flower formation. Deadheading will encourage additional growth and new flower buds to extend the blooming season. Buddleia has a good tolerance for drought once established, but should be carefully watered when young. A good, thick layer of mulch will help maintain soil moisture and keep weeds down to keep the shrub healthy. Just be sure not to use insecticides or pesticides on your butterfly bush or you may be harming the very fluttering fliers you hope to attract.
Not sure which butterfly bush to try? Consider these varieties and choose the perfect color and size to suit your yard. Then enjoy the fragrance and an explosion of color summer through frost!
By Terri Schwartz of Wedel’s Nursery, Florist & Garden Center