Bring Butterflies to Your Garden with Butterfly Bushes

Bring Butterflies to Your Garden with Butterfly Bushes

Getting Started with the Wonderful Buddleja

By Published July 14, 2018 Updated March 07, 2023

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The following article is part of a series geared toward entry-level gardeners. For deep dives into a variety of perennials that we have sold over the decades, visit our archive of in-depth perennial articles written by Tony Avent, Dr. Patrick McMillan, and other Plant Delights and JLBG experts. We also have transcripts of our Gardening Unplugged videos, recorded during our Open Nursery and Garden Days, that have great information for gardeners of all experience levels.

Buddleja, commonly known as buddleia or butterfly bush, is a plant that is widely known for its ability to attract butterflies to a garden. It produces a large amount of nectar in its flowers, which is the primary source of food for adult butterflies. The brightly colored flowers with shades of purple, pink, white, and yellow, and their unique shape, resembling butterfly wings, make it easier for the butterflies to spot the plant from a distance. The blooming season of the buddleja coincides with the time when most butterfly species are active, providing a reliable source of nectar when other plants may not be blooming. Additionally, the plant's easy access due to the flowers' arrangement in long spikes and the branching habit provides plenty of landing spots for butterflies. Besides providing food for butterflies, buddleja can provide shelter and habitat for them and other beneficial insects, making it an excellent addition to any garden.

Do Butterfly Bushes Attract Bees?

Adding butterfly plants for pollinators to your garden is crucial for several reasons. Pollinators such as bees, butterflies, hummingbirds, and other insects play a vital role in the ecosystem by facilitating the fertilization of plants. Without pollinators, the reproduction of many plants would not be possible, which would cause a ripple effect throughout the food chain. Additionally, pollinators contribute to the production of fruits, nuts, and seeds that humans and animals consume. By adding plants that attract pollinators to your garden, you can help support local populations of these important insects, which are under threat due to habitat loss, pesticide use, and other factors. These plants also provide a source of food and shelter for pollinators, which can help to increase their populations and support a healthy ecosystem. Finally, plants for pollinators can add beauty and interest to your garden, providing a natural habitat for a diverse range of wildlife, and creating a peaceful and relaxing environment for you to enjoy.

Benefits of growing buddleja in the garden:

  1. Attractive flowers - Buddleja produces showy, fragrant flowers in a range of colors, including purple, pink, white, and yellow. The flowers are often described as looking like butterfly wings, hence the common name "butterfly bush."

  2. Attracts pollinators - Buddleja is a magnet for butterflies, bees, and other pollinators. By growing buddleja in your garden, you can help support local populations of these important insects.

  3. Low-maintenance - Buddleja is a hardy plant that requires minimal maintenance once established. It can tolerate a wide range of soil types and doesn't require frequent watering or fertilization.

  4. Easy to propagate - Buddleja can be propagated from cuttings, making it an easy plant to propagate and share with friends and family.

  5. Long blooming season - Buddleja blooms from mid-summer to early fall, providing a long season of color and attracting pollinators throughout the growing season.

  6. Wildlife habitat - By attracting pollinators to your garden, buddleja can help support a diverse range of wildlife, including birds and other insects that feed on nectar and pollen.

  7. Versatility - Buddleja can be grown as a shrub, a small tree, or even as a hedge, making it a versatile plant for a range of garden styles and purposes.

Buddleja Companion Plants

When selecting plants to grow alongside Buddleja, it is important to choose those that will complement its growth habits, soil preferences, and aesthetic qualities. Here are three plants that can be grown alongside Buddleja:

  1. Coneflowers (Echinacea): Coneflowers are a perennial flowering plant that blooms from summer to fall. They grow well in full sun to partial shade and prefer well-draining soil. Coneflowers have a clumping growth habit and can reach up to 2-3 feet tall, making them a great companion plant for the taller Buddleja. The bright purple, pink, or white flowers of coneflowers will provide a lovely contrast to the Buddleja's colorful blooms. Additionally, coneflowers attract bees, butterflies, and other pollinators, making them a beneficial addition to any garden.

  2. Sedum: Sedum is a low-maintenance succulent that is easy to grow and care for. It prefers full sun to partial shade and well-draining soil. Sedum has a spreading growth habit and can form a groundcover around the base of the Buddleja shrub. The small, star-shaped flowers of sedum range in color from white to pink to red and will add interest and texture to the garden. Additionally, sedum is drought-tolerant and can help to conserve water in your garden.

  3. Lavandula: Lavandula, commonly known as lavender, is a fragrant, flowering herb that is popular in many gardens. It grows best in full sun and well-draining soil. Lavender has a bushy growth habit and can reach up to 2-3 feet tall. The purple, blue, or pink flowers of lavender will complement the Buddleja's blooms, and their fragrant scent will add a lovely aroma to the garden. Additionally, lavender is known to attract bees and butterflies, making it a beneficial plant for pollinators.

Growing buddleja in your garden can provide a range of benefits, including attractive flowers, support for pollinators, low-maintenance requirements, easy propagation, a long blooming season, habitat for wildlife, and versatility in garden design. As a plant that is known to attract butterflies, buddleja can help to support local populations of these important pollinators while adding beauty and interest to your landscape. By incorporating buddleja into your garden design, you can create a welcoming and thriving environment for both people and wildlife.

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