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Butterfly bush is also for the birds, and the bees...

Updated: Nov 15, 2022

Common Name : Butterfly Bush

Science-y Name : Buddleia davidii (There is an alternate spelling of buddleja. Both are acceptable, though you may get a lively argument about why you should spell it the "other way")

A Few Other Varieties : B. davidii is the most likely to find here in New England. So we're going to stick with that because that's where we are. There are more out there though!

Native or Non : Butterfly Bush is not native to New Hampshire or New England. It is yet another shrub that was introduced to our northern landscapes from Asia. There are butterfly bush that are native to parts of the Americas from the southern United States down to Chile.

It is considered invasive in many states. Check to see if it’s on your state’s invasive list before planting.

Characteristics : Buddleja davidii is a flowering shrub that loves the sun and well drained soil. Its

flowers are attractive to butterflies, bees, hummingbirds and other pollinators. Some studies suggest that a butterfly bush may be too attractive and plentiful with pollen and actually keep pollinators from visiting other local flowering plants.

Butterfly bush bloom in the late spring and throughout the summer with beautiful panicles (a loose, branching cluster of flowers) usually of light purple or pink flowers. When a healthy butterfly bush is in bloom the flowers will cover the greenery of the slender leaves. Regular deadheading to remove spent panicles will encourage new blossoms throughout the summer.

This shrub tends to be wider than taller, and can spread up to 15 feet across. Some varieties of butterfly bush can also reach 15 ft in height. Planted in groups they will form a somewhat wild looking, but pleasant, border for any space.

In the northern colder climates Butterfly bush will die back all the way in the fall, so are considered a perennial bush. It is also recommended to cut back any remaining growth in spring, after the threat of frosts is passed, to encourage new growth.

Either way, remember where it is planted in the spring and mow around it so you don’t keep cutting off new growth by accident!

Fun Fact : In the United Kingdom the butterfly bush is also known as the bomb site plant because of it’s prominence on sites where bombs were dropped during World War II. It grows easily on dry open ground and is considered a noxious weed because of this.

Care Considerations : Proper deadheading, which means removing spent flowers from the stems, will keep a Butterfly Bush blooming throughout the summer and help to control seed spread. While Butterfly Bush are not considered invasive in New England, the shrub is considered invasive in other areas as the seeds spread easily from the spent panicles. RAG Thyme gardeners will deadhead and weed to keep your Butterfly Bush healthy and flowering throughout the growing season. In spring we’ll check the shrub for any winter damage and prune it to help promote the best flowering for the season.

Contact us to get an estimate on RAG Thyme services for your yard and garden! We’ll help existing plants stay brilliant, or suggest alternatives with as much beauty and personality.

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