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Buddleia (BUD-lee-uh)

Common Name:  Butterfly bush

Light:  - Full sun to part sun

Soil:  Average to rich, loose and well-draining

Moisture:  Average to dry, very dry in winter

Blooms:  Late summer

Zones:  varies by type, generally 5 - 10

Buddleia 'Attraction'

Buddleia 'Honeycomb'

Buddleia Description and Cultural Information

Buddleia davidii, butterfly bush. 5' - 10', dwarf varieties 3' - 5'. These are woody plants, but in colder climates they are grown as herbaceaous perennials. Often referred to as summer lilacs, butterfly bushes have 4 to 10" long upright or nodding panicles of very fragrant, sweet smelling lilac flowers. Cultivars include: 'Black Knight' with very dark purple flowers; 'Charming' with pink flowers and very long panicles; 'Harlequin' with cream variegated leaves and reddish purple flowers; 'Red Plume' with reddish purple flowers; 'White Feather' with pure white flowers. Dwarf butterfly bushes that grow about 3' tall include 'Nanho Alba', 'Nanho Blue', 'Nanho Purple', 'Petite Indigo', and 'Petite Plum'. The truest dwarf is Buddleia 'White Ball' which forms a nearly perfect round mound about 2' high and wide. Zones 4 - 10.

Buddleia x weyeriana. 5' - 10'. A cross between B. globosa (orange butterfly bush) and B. davidii var. magnifica, the most common cultivar of this hybrid is 'Sun Gold', an interesting yellow-orange. The flowers are similar in shape to B. globosa, held together in rounded, opposite pairs along 6 to10" panicles. Zones (5) 6 - 10.

How to Grow:  Plant butterfly bushes in average to rich, loose, well-drained soil in full sun to part sun. Plants will not flower much in the shade and tend to grow sparse and leggy. Although most references place it hardy to zone 5, our Buddleias survived -32ºF temperatures several years ago and simply emerged about 3 weeks later than usual. The key to winter survival is perfect drainage and relatively dry conditions, especially when they are dormant and before they emerge in the spring. Plants are often happier growing in sand and gravel than heavy, rich soil. Prune back to new growth in spring, or prune hard to reguvinate overgrown clumps. Deadheading the flowers (if you have the patience) will encourage blooms well into fall.

Landscape uses:  Use butterfly bushes in the shrub or perennial border. They are a must for the butterfly and hummingbird garden and is beautiful in masses or for a hedge. The Nanho series are more compact, growing 3' to 5' high, and are perfect for the smaller garden. 'White Ball' is a true dwarf which looks great near the border.

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