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purple buddleia flowers in a garden exterior
Buddleia is one plant that deserves its common name of butterfly bush, as it really does attract butterflies to its sweetly scented flowers. Quick growing and easy to maintain, it is a useful addition to most gardens.

What you need to know about buddleia

Name: butterfly bush, Buddleia davidii and varieties.

Height: around 3m+ with age. Smaller forms, around 1m, are available.

Foliage: deciduous, dark green and pale underneath.

Climate: cold temperate, warm temperate, arid/semi-arid, sub-tropical and tropical.

Soil: most soils are OK, except for really dry ones.

Position: full sun.

Flowering: cones of flowers in summer. Colour depends on variety.

Feeding: regular feeding with a balanced, controlled-release fertiliser.

Watering: water young plants to help them establish. Older plants will need supplemental watering in dry periods.

Appearance and characteristics of buddleia

Buddleia is an arching deciduous shrub with many branches covered in lance-shaped dark green leaves. The leaf stems and undersides are often covered with a fine white fluff.

The flowers are small but numerous and appear in summer in a long, showy cone arrangement at the end of the growing tips. The flower colour depends on the variety, but can be white, pink or purple—or any shade in between!

There are many new varieties on the market that are denser and more free-flowering than the original, so look out for these.

close up of a flowering buddleia with butterflies

Uses for buddleia

An incredibly quick grower, the butterfly bush can be used to rapidly fill a blank spot in a garden. The flowers attract butterflies and bees and have a lovely scent.

How to plant and grow buddleia

Plant buddleia out at any time of the year except in extremely dry weather. It will do best in a sunny spot and is tolerant of heavy frosts. Improve the soil by adding compost before planting.

Caring for buddleia

Butterfly bush will tolerate some dryness but will need watering about once a week in really hot and dry weather.

How and when to prune buddleia

Buddleia flowers on the ends of the growing tips. In colder areas, prune hard in late winter to encourage these new shoots. In warm areas a couple of prunes a year will increase flowering. Butterfly bush responds well to pruning, so as much as a third or half can be taken off.

Diseases and pests

Butterfly bush is relatively free of diseases and pests. You may get an occasional caterpillar eating the leaves, but these rarely build up into numbers that are a problem.

Sometimes older plants can get a bit straggly. If this happens, give the plant a really hard prune in early spring.

The butterfly bush can be considered an invasive species, as it can crowd out other plants if left unchecked. You should ensure that your buddleia thrives but doesn’t start impacting nearby plants.

How to propagate buddleia

Growing buddleia from cuttings

You can grow fresh buddleia plants from cuttings taken in late summer.

  1. Take 10–15cm-long cuttings. These should not have flowers.
  2. Strip off all but the top few leaves and place cuttings into a pot of propagating sand, making sure at least two notches where leaves used to be are in the mix.
  3. Keep damp and wait about six months before checking for roots.

If you like this then try

Salvia: a range of shrubs and perennials that flower for ages and are low maintenance.

Daisies: long-flowering shrubs that are easy to grow.

Oleander: dense evergreen shrub with perfumed flowers in summer.

Lavender: bee and butterfly attracting evergreen shrubs

Start planting today

Check out our huge range of plants now and get your garden growing!

 

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Health & Safety

Asbestos, lead-based paints and copper chromium arsenic (CCA) treated timber are health hazards you need to look out for when renovating older homes. These substances can easily be disturbed when renovating and exposure to them can cause a range of life-threatening diseases and conditions including cancer. For information on the dangers of asbestos, lead-based paint and CCA treated timber and tips for dealing with these materials contact your local council's Environmental Health Officer or visit our Health & Safety page.

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