Sunday, March 20, 2011

Pruning Buddleia (Butterfly Bush)

Buddleia 'davidii'
Buddleia 'davidii' or Butterfly Bush is a wonderful shrub in the landscape for the naturalized garden. Hardy in zones 5-10 and growing between six and twelve feet in height,  its delicate arching branches and colorful nectar filled flowers are a major attraction for Hummingbirds and butterflies. Butterfly Bush are evergreen in areas where minimum winter temperatures are above twenty degrees and are deciduous where temperatures go below freezing.  In areas colder than zone 5, Buddleia may die back all the way to the ground and will grow vigorously once spring arrives.  In areas zone 5 and colder it is advisable to leave branches on until spring and to cover the root crown with mulch for winter protection.  Buddleia grow best in a well-drained fertile soil in full sun.

When To Prune Buddleia:  Buddleia 'davidii' blooms on the new wood of the season and should be pruned in late winter /early spring to encourage new growth.  Prune before new growth starts to appear to approximately 12 inches (30 centimeters) above the ground.  Buddleia are a type of plant that highly benefit from a severe pruning.  "Hard" pruning Butterfly Bush promotes many new arching branches with larger flowers than if the plant had not been pruned. 

Later in the Season Pruning:  It is also beneficial to prune off dead and faded flowers once the flowering season has completed. With regular "deadheading" or removal of spent flowers your Buddleia will put its energy back into producing even more flowers well into fall.  In colder climates, never prune completely to the ground in Fall for it can be detrimental to the plant.  It is best to wait until late winter/early spring to perform this task.

Retaining Height of Buddleia:  If you chose to use your  Buddleia as a backdrop shrub simply allow it to grow larger then prune new growth so that the plant is approximately 24 inches (60 centimeters) in height.  Also by keeping the height in the center of the plant a little above the sides, the plant will grow in a nice shape appearing taller.  In either case, whether you choose to keep your plant higher as a backdrop or lower in front, a hard pruning will always benefit your plant and encourage new growth for the season. 

Buddleia Lo & Behold 'Blue Chip'

If you would like to try a dwarf form of buddleia that does not grow above three feet in height try the new Buddleia 'Blue Chip' from the Lo & Behold collection!

Happy Gardening!

Author: Lee @A Guide To Northeastern Gardening Copyright 2011. All Rights Reserved.


  1. I live in England, which is hardiness zone 8 I think. My buddleia bush would soon take over the entire garden if I didn't hack it back to ground level every autumn.

    It's such a lovely bush though, and attracts so many butterflies.

  2. They are lovely. There is a new miniature version of Buddleia- Lo and Behold 'Blue Chips' that I am very excited about getting. It stays very compact (2-3 feet)!

  3. I just planted a white butterfly bush a couple of weeks ago. It won't get as much sun as it would probably like but what it gets will be hot! I hope it works out...they are so beautiful and I love that they attract so much wildlife.

  4. I'm not sure when these guys are meant to start showing signs of life in the spring. I'm in Qu├ębec, we have hard and long winters here, I pruned in early spring, but nothing is happening yet. I think we might be zone 4-5...have I killed it? All my perennials are up and enjoying the prolific rains.

  5. Give it more time. It was a harsh winter. Everything seems to be running about two weeks late this season. Lee

  6. The butterfly, oh my! What a great camera shot! Very nice pictures, and thanks for the landscaping tips and info!

    -Samudaworth Tree Service

    1. Thank you! The butterfly shots were actually taken on a trip to a butterfly farm and I could not resist! Thank you for visiting!

  7. I'm looking for a buddleia that will grow up to 3m. Could you suggest which varieties might be suitable? I'm in Melbourne, Australia

    1. Buddleia davidii 'Black Knight' is a very nice species (dark purple) that grows 2-3 meters in height. The only thing is it may be considered invasive in your warmer climate. You can ask your local nursery. I do know that the dwarf version Lo & Behold 'Blue Chip' is not considered invasive but it only grows to 1 meter. Both attract an abundance of butterflies!


Thank you for visiting. I love reading your comments and knowing you have been here, and will try to reciprocate on your blog. If you have any questions I will try my very best to answer them. As always...HAPPY GARDENING!


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