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Buddleias, One Of The Better Butterfly Plants For The Landscape

July 2005

Butterfly Bush
Buddleias, known by most home gardeners as butterfly bush, are becoming an increasingly popular plant in the home landscape, according to LSU AgCenter horticulturist Dr. Allen Owings.

These perennials are highly regarded by butterflies as a nectar plant. "Butterfly bushes are becoming available in an increasing array of sizes, flower colors and foliage," Owings says, adding, "They can be used as cut flowers and have fragrant blossoms."

The horticulturist notes that Buddleias are winter hardy in Louisiana but also can be used for annual color in the landscape if desired.

"The recent resurgence in buddleias at retail garden centers can partially be attributed to new varieties being released over the past 10 years," Owings says, adding, "Many more new varieties are in the works."

Sungold and Honeycomb produce golden yellow flowers. Another newer variety is Royal Red – but the flowers are not truly red – more of a dark purplish. White, pink, blush and purple (with varying shades of these colors) constitute the flower color availability in Buddleia varieties.

Site selection is somewhat important as it is with many other ornamental plants. Many people have long thought of Buddleia as a hardy herbaceous perennial, but it makes a significantly sized shrub. Height can easily reach 8-10 feet with a 5-6 foot spread. Plants have an arching type of growth habit.

Select a well-drained soil located in full or partial sun. Consider the plants’ mature size when spacing between plants. Most people plant butterfly bushes too close together. Most varieties need at least 6-8 feet between plants, and most varieties are larger growing than we realize and may need more space than this. Soil pH should be in the 6.5-7.0 range. Fertilize at planting with a slow-release fertilizer, such as StaGreen or Osmocote. Plants coming back numerous years in the landscape can be fertilized once in the spring when new growth commences. The main pest problem of Buddleias is spider mites.

Pruning plants back in the spring just prior to new growth will encourage new growth, maintain a more manageable growth habit and offer an opportunity to remove dead wood. New growth in the spring yields the blooms that will start in May and go until first killing frost. Tip pruning terminal shoots during the season also encourages continual blooming through the season.

"Buddleias are one landscape plant that is well worth adding to your landscape," Owings advises, noting that it has continual bloom, is low maintenance and brings butterflies to the garden.


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