Butterfly Bush

When I was a child, long, long before I was ever interested in plants I remember seeing a plant catalog that my parents received. It probably came in the Sunday paper and was mixed in with the comics and other color-printed flyers -- I can't think of any other reason that I would have seen it. It was one of those lower-quality printings, with over-saturated photographs and illustrations of many of the plants. The only plant I remember seeing from this catalog was a "butterfly bush". I can't be certain of the exact wording, but it said something like "produces big, fragrant blooms all summer long, attracting butterflies from all over the neighborhood". It sounded too good to be true to me, and why didn't they have a photograph of this amazing plant?

Decades passed and one of the first plants I ever bought for my garden was a "butterfly bush", or Buddleia davidii. I have to say, that ad from long ago was right!


This is not a native plant, but the butterflies simply adore it. There aren't many of them flying around right now -- their time is later in the summer -- but these blooms are still so wonderful to have around.

So fragrant... a sweet scent, not overpowering though.

I breath deeply of this plant whenever I walk past.

I have two named cultivars: 'Pink Delight' and 'Dark Knight', and also some seedlings that are either more like the species, or some cross between my two varieties.

This seedling has huge flower spikes, almost 24" (60 cm) long:

I often think about getting a white variety, or one of the yellow ones. It seems wrong to buy another one of these though, since I always have seedlings available. They also propagate very easily from cuttings.

Lots of different insects love these flowers, not just the butterflies. I often find bees that have spent the night in the blooms:

Also some not-very-welcome visitors (Japanese beetles):

Lots of tiny insects too:

It's because of these little guys that I release several baby mantises on these shrubs each year:

The flowers fade after a couple of days, but I remove the faded blooms every week or two to keep the blooms coming and the reduce the number of volunteers I have popping up everywhere. These things will produce tons of seeds if you let them!

The blooms that come later in the summer are smaller, but there are more of them.

I cut my butterfly bushes down to the ground late every winter, so I don't end up with huge, woody messes -- I get all new wood, plenty of blooms, and shrubs of manageable size. They still reach 7' (2m) or so tall, but that's perfect for me.

And this plant is perfect for my garden!


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Gerhard Bock (Succulents and More)  – (June 19, 2012 at 10:59 AM)  

I wish everybody would cut down their buddleias in the winter or spring. They are so much more attractive with all-new growth. We have many old ones along the green belt near our house and many of them are woody, leggy and spindly.

scottweberpdx  – (June 19, 2012 at 6:16 PM)  

I know they are listed as an invasive here in Oregon...and I do see volunteers around town...but honestly, never outside the city limits. It's amazing to me, since growing up in Nebraska, they were almost impossible to overwinter!!!

Jennifer  – (June 19, 2012 at 6:49 PM)  

I have plant envy. Buddleias are so hard to keep alive in Minnesota. :(

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