Butterfly Bushes - How to care, grow and look after them

December, 2023
Darren Spalding

Butterfly bushes are grown for their colourful flowers that spread like panicles. There are many species of butterfly bush, but the most common are Buddleia and Buddleja. Butterfly Bushes can be used as shrubs or small trees in your garden. Some have fragrant flowers while others do not, so there is a variety to choose from depending on your preferences.

Butterfly Bush Planting

Butterfly bush is fairly easy to grow. They are hardy in zones 3-9. Butterfly bushes can be started from seed, but you will have better results if you purchase plants from your local nursery or garden centre. Propagate them by dividing the butterfly bush plants after they bloom and before the flowers fade and drop off. To divide butterfly bushes, simply dig around the root ball of each plant and gently pull it apart with your hands or a trowel.

Each plant will have many small root clusters, so it is very easy to propagate this shrub. Plant them in sunny areas that are well-drained and give them fertile soil with a pH of 6-7. Butterfly bushes grow best in USDA zones 3b through 11. This shrub can be used as hedges if you trim the roots back from

Caring for Butterfly Bushes

In order to care for butterfly bushes properly, they require rich, well-drained soil that receives plenty of sunlight. The more light they receive, the more blooms they will produce. Clearing any unwanted weeds around your butterfly bush plants is also helpful, as this will keep the area surrounding your plant neat and tidy.

Butterfly Bushes and Pollinators

Butterfly bushes (Buddleia species) are pollinated by butterflies and other insects. Some butterfly bush varieties do not produce nectar, so they will not attract as many pollinators. Butterfly bushes with attractive flowers will be more appealing to a wider variety of insects that can feed on the

Problems with Butterfly Bushes

Butterfly bushes can become infested with leafminers. They will often have yellow or brown streaks crisscrossing the leaves, and a hole in the middle of each streak. The leaves will start to wilt, curl up, and drop off your butterfly bush plant if it becomes infested with leafminers. To get rid of them, prune away affected foliage as soon as you notice leafminers on your plants. Leafminer larvae are wormlike bugs that feed through a small hole they create between the upper and lower epidermis of your butterfly bush's leaves

Treating Diseases Affecting Butterfly Bushes

Keep fungus related diseases at bay by ensuring that you water your butterfly bushes early in the morning so the foliage has time to dry before nightfall. Water your butterfly bushes deeply at least twice a week, but do not water them excessively as too much water will cause root rot. Butterfly bushes have a waxy coating on their leaves that protects them from moisture loss. Butterfly bushes are susceptible to powdery mildew which will cause white or grey, powdery-looking spots to form on the

Pruning Butterfly Bushes

Cutting butterfly bushes back can be a tricky proposition. If done incorrectly, you could inadvertently damage your plant and potentially kill it. The spring after your butterfly bush plants bloom is generally the best time to prune them. Pruning should be done in early spring because this is when new growth begins developing. Also, your butterfly bush plants will not start flowering until at least one year after they are planted. If you prune too much off of your butterfly bush plant in one year, it could potentially die.

Controlling Butterfly Bush Size and Shape

You can control the size of your butterfly bush by pruning it. Prune in late spring or early summer to maintain an attractive shape for your plant. Some people choose to prune their butterfly bushes a little each year, while others wait until they have grown several feet tall before pruning them back to ground level. Be generous with your pruning when you are planting new butterfly bush plants, but cut them back once every few years as they grow larger so that they will continue blossoming without getting too big. You may need to thin out some of the branches occasionally as well to keep them from taking over too much space in your garden if you opt not to prune them annually.


Why are butterfly bushes bad?

Butterfly bushes are a member of the buttercup family. They have a reputation for being invasive. This means they reproduce and spread rapidly and that they can take over whole areas of land. This makes them a poor choice for people who wish to grow butterfly bushes in large numbers or where they might spread to areas they are not wanted.

Where is the best place to plant a butterfly bush?

The best place to plant a butterfly bush will depend on the reason you want to grow it. If you wish to attract butterflies, you should plant your butterfly bush in areas where they are commonly found and likely to visit. This may be indoors if you have limited space or outdoors in areas such as your garden or yard. Butterfly bushes can also be planted around ponds, wetlands and other water features

Do butterfly bushes need sun or shade?

While butterfly bushes can survive in most environments, they do benefit from being planted in a sunny spot. They tend to be healthier and grow better when exposed to sunlight. However, if you live in an area that does not have much direct sunlight or your yard is shady, butterfly bushes will grow as long as there is some sun exposure.

What is the lifespan of a butterfly bush?

The lifespan of a butterfly bush varies from species to species. Some, like the perennial butterfly bush, can live for up to 20 years if cared for properly. Others may only live about 6 years or so.

Yes, but they are not as attractive while in bloom and should be used mainly as foliage plants. The flowers tend to be small and unappealing and you will want to avoid planting flowering types if possible. They do not have many attractive features beyond their foliage so make sure you select an acceptable variety before deciding where to plant it.

Are butterfly bushes toxic to dogs?

Butterfly bushes are not highly toxic to dogs. While they may cause some itching and minor irritation, you should be able to avoid serious problems if you keep your dog away from the plant's foliage. Some people have had success growing butterfly bushes after digging a trench around their plants and filling this with sand or gravel to discourage pets from coming in contact with them. You should speak with your veterinarian before deciding what course of action you will take.

Are butterfly bushes good for butterflies?

The short answer is yes, but it depends on which type of butterfly bush you're asking about. Butterfly bushes can attract butterflies if planted in appropriate locations that provide shelter and food for these insects. However, some species of butterfly bush can be harmful to butterflies because they absorb nectar and are poisonous to butterflies.

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