Buddleia (butterfly bushes) prefer full sun and while they are drought tolerant, slightly moist soils produce the happiest plants. We like to use buddleias near a path, where the honey fragrance of the blooms is evident as we stroll by. In addition to the eponymous butterflies, they also attract hummingbirds. Check out our quick guide on how to care for Buddleia
More Information About Buddleia
Butterfly Bushes are easy to grow and tough. Deer do not like them but butterflies and hummingbirds love them. Butterfly bushes have a lot going for them.
Plant Delights Nursery strives to offer a nice selection of distinct butterfly bush (Buddleia) cultivars for sale. These include a wide range of flower colors including white, yellow, pink, magenta, bicolor and the ubiquitous purple / blue butterfly bush. We offer several Buddleia davidii cultivars with their cone-shaped flower panicles and we also have more rarely offered Buddleia species with a variety of unique traits such as yellow and orange globe-shaped flowers or a vine-like habit.
PDN is proud to offer the latest butterfly bush hybrids from renowned breeders such as Dr. Dennis Werner of N.C. State University including his award winning selections, Miss Molly, Lo and Behold, Blue Chip and Miss Ruby Butterfly Bush. Recent trends in butterfly bush breeding include improvements over Buddleia davidii in flower color and shape (especially with red butterfly bushes and yellow butterfly bushes), sterility, and a reduction in plant size. The newest dwarf butterfly bush cultivars are small enough to use in containers or as groundcover plants.
The genus Buddleia has an alternate spelling, Buddleja, that is commonly used in the United Kingdom. Don't let the 'j' fool you, Buddleja is pronounced the exact same way as Buddleia (BUD-lee-uh or Buddle-EEE-ya). For you trivia nerds, Buddleia / Buddleja is named for a British taxonomist by the name of Adam Buddle. The use of both Buddleja and Buddleia is an artifact of medieval versions of Latin that used 'j' and 'i' interchangeably. We prefer Buddleia because it looks better than Buddleja and doesn't make us go cross-eyed. The species Buddleia davidii is named for another taxonomist, P.A. David, who first discovered this species in China.
Below are the basics of how to care for this easy-to-grow plant. For more information and an in-depth set of instructions read our article The Butterfly Bush - Buddleia davidii.
Pruning Butterfly Bushes
We recommend that you prune Buddleia davidii to around 12" in early spring for the best performance. Deadheading the spent flowers of butterfly bush improves and prolongs flower production and on fertile varieties prevents seeding around. The rare species, B. alternifolia blooms on old wood and should not be pruned hard.
Where to Plant
We like to use butterfly bushes near a path where the honey fragrance of the blooms is evident as we stroll by and where we can observe the tremendous numbers of butterflies and hummingbirds that flock to the flowers.
Butterfly bushes prefer full sun.
While they are drought tolerant, regular watering and slightly moist soils produce the happiest plants. Too much water will promote rot though.
Butterfly Bushes will rot if planted in poor draining soil, so make sure the planting site drains well. Almost any pH from 5 to 8.5 will do.
Spider mites seem to attack butterfly bushes only when they are stressed due to a poor growing environment. If you keep your buddleia happy and healthy, pests should not be a problem. Buddleia are deer-resistant too.
Buddleia Cold Tolerance
For those of you in colder climates, Buddleia davidii and its many cultivars are the hardiest....zone 5.
Is Buddleia a Weed?
Some states and countries (Oregon, Washington, England) list Buddleia davidii as a weed because they are unusually prolific there. If you live in one of these places and you still want a Buddleia, try growing some of the newer hybrid Buddleia davidii selections such as Miss Molly that are mostly sterile.
Additional Butterfly Bush Resources
Interested in starting your very own butterfly garden? Just want to take a deep dive into Buddleia davidii? Plant Delights has you covered. Here are a few Buddleia resources we have provided to help get you started.
The Butterfly Bush - Buddleia davidii - In-depth article on how to grow and care for butterfly bushes.
The Top 25 Butterfly Garden Plants - Great list to get you started on your way to creating the perfect habitat for butterflies and other pollinators.
How to Build a Butterfly Garden - Details on how to build the perfect butterfly habitat.
Check out Tony's blog posts featuring butterfly bushes over at the JLBG.org blog.