Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Butterfly Bush Plant Profile

During the winter months I thought it would be fun to showcase plant profiles of my favorite garden workhorse plants and new plants I'm interested in growing. This week's plant profile is the butterfly bush.

Butterfly bush (Buddleia) is a very hardy, sun loving plant that does well in both warm weather climates and coastal weather. Typical height for butterfly bushes are six to eight feet tall but they can grow taller and quite wide as well. Here on the coast butterfly bushes in our yard grow a good ten to twelve feet high after a severe cut back in spring to three feet tall. Do not prune your newly planted butterfly bush until it is in the ground for a year. Once the plant is established you can cut them back hard 1 1/2 feet to 3 feet from ground level. Prune your butterfly bushes after last frost in early spring. Growth of the newly cut stems tend to grow quickly, at times growing five feet or more in a season.

Butterfly bushes are sturdy plants with beautiful cone shaped flowers resembling lilac flowers. The individual flowers are very tiny, smaller than lilac flowers, but together the flowers form a long cone shape at the end of stems. The new stems and flowers grow from either current wood or newly developed wood after pruning. Some butterfly bushes are never cut back and flower regularly year after year. The butterfly bush is aptly named since butterflies travel to these plants in droves. The flowers emit a grape like smell that is very fragrant. Butterfly bushes come in a variety of colors including dark purple, light purple, white, pink, dark magenta and golden yellow. It can take a year for a new butterfly bush to get settled into place in the ground before they grow large. The plants require full sun but don't seem to mind coastal fog.

Full sun, zones 5-9

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