The butterfly bush’s botanical name is the Buddleia davidii. It comes from the genus of Buddleia which is a flowering shrub. The flower usually grows in panicles with a length of less than 20 cm. What makes the plant unique is that each of the flowers can reproduce by itself by having a complete part of male and female in it. Thus, the butterfly bush flower can be grouped as a hermaphrodite.
The Buddleia davidii bush can grow up to 5 meters with vigorous panicles of beautiful flowers. The flower’s color may range from purple, pink, red, yellow, and white. It has a sweet honey scent which often attracts bees and adult butterflies, hence the name.
The bush itself has sturdy branches with rather spiky trusses. In some areas, the plant is considered invasive because it tends to grow aggressively especially in winter. You may consult with the local planting cooperation extension to see whether the bush is appropriate to plant in your area. There are cases of the butterfly bush invade the land and takes other natural plants soil and nutrition.
Butterfly Bush Cultivation around the World
The plant is native to central China and Japan. It was discovered for the first time in 1887, and soon the seeds were distributed, and the plant has been popular as an ornamental bush since. Around the world, there are at least 6 subspecies of this plant that is known by the gardeners. Under the subspecies, there are 180 cultivars which are products of hybridization including the dwarf butterfly bush varieties.
Some of the most famous ones are Black Knight butterfly bush, Nanho white butterfly bush, Nanho purple butterfly bush, and the Blue Horizon blue butterfly bush. In the United Kingdom, those cultivars received the RHS Award of Garden Merit of 2012. This means the plant is available as a horticultural plant, easy to grow and care, and not particularly reluctant to pests and diseases.
Though the plant is rather rugged and can be planted in any zone of planting, it may die under -20 Celsius degrees. Still, in temperate regions such as the United Kingdom and New Zealand, the growth of this plant can be uncontrollable. It may invade other plant and even considered as a pest. Extra care and hard pruning need to be done in order to push down its invasiveness.
Growing and Caring Butterfly bush
Despite its invasiveness, the plant with its beautiful flowers would still be an excellent addition to your garden as a bordering bush. You only need to make sure about the garden layout so that the plant does not attack other nearby plants.
The butterfly bush care needs an abundant source of sunlight. In a warmer climate, it may need around 6 – 8 hours of full sunlight. In the United States, the plant may grow well on hardiness zone 5 – 9.
It needs fertile soil, loose, and well-drained. To maximize growth, you may mix the soil with organic compost. It is important to keep the soil well-drained because the root tends to rot when it retains too much water. When planting it for the first time, set the root ball at least 1.5 – 3 meters apart. Make sure that the root ball is not buried too deep. Cover the top root ball side with soil until it forms some kind of a mountain down the stem.
The plant needs to be watered frequently and thoroughly especially in growing time. In summer, add the watering frequency mainly when the rainfall is less than 1 inch per week. The key to a perfect watering schedule is to not let the top soil to be dry for too long.
Since the plant is not a hard-growing one, you may only need to fertilize it lightly. Too much fertilizer would encourage more leaf growth rather than the flower.
Pruning, Deadheading, and Cutting
If you want to see more flower blooms, hard pruning butterfly bush is highly recommended. Choose the spent flower spikes to prune to encourage new flower buds. Once you reach the ideal amount of flower, you need to check for withering flowers and deadhead it. In some regions, deadheading butterfly bush is required to keep it from invading the land around which belongs to other plants.
Butterfly bush would bloom and regrow every summer and spring. The hermaphrodite flowers give the plant the ability to reproduce ever so quickly than other flowering plants. It is recommended to cut down the bush to the ground once it reaches spring. In winter, it may go under a dormancy phase, but will definitely grow back in the next season.
Pests and Diseases
Some pests that may attack this Buddleia are caterpillars, capsid bugs, spider mites, and weevils. The easiest one to handle is the spider mite. Get a spray of cold water between 0 – 4 Celsius degrees to get rid of it. On the other side, fungal disease on leaf and black spots may happen due to overwatering. Check the soil and reevaluate your watering schedule if you find the occurrence.
Meanwhile, the weevil can be exterminated only by a suitable insecticide. If you spot weevils on the bush, there is a high possibility that they already lay eggs—check the bottoms of the leaves to find out. The sweet and strong scent of the flower may also attract bees which sometimes cannot be classified as pests. However, you might be disturbed by it. It is recommended to plant the bush away from the busy area of your garden.
Overall, the butterfly bush is definitely a plant to choose if you want to have a fast-growing flowering bush. However, it can be quite uncontrollable especially when it finds the perfect condition to grow. If the local authority in your area does not recommend planting this bush, you can find other flowering bush to plant. As an alternative, some other flowering bushes that can be cultivated are asters, irises, milkweed, and goldenrod.