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Little Things You Never Knew About the Butterfly Bush

Butterfly Bush
To say the least, butterfly bushes are extremely attractive. The genus consists of over 100 species of flowering plants growing in Asia, Africa, and America.
Gardenerdy Staff
Last Updated: Mar 10, 2018
The scientific name of the butterfly bush is Buddleja, and it is also known as the summer lilac or the orange eye. You just have to look at the flowers of these bushes to understand why they have been so named. The bushes are a magnet for all the butterflies that fly around looking for nectar. Therefore, many butterfly gardeners plan their gardens around the Buddleja.

Butterfly bushes are perennial in nature, and hence, they can also be used to form a medium- to large-sized hedge. However, these bushes are not neat and tidy, and they require a lot of maintenance and upkeep. Another reason as to why these bushes are so popular is that they are very easy to grow. They tolerate pollution and almost all types of soil. They are also pest-free with the exception of spider mite infestations during stress or drought. These bushes flourish marvelously when kept in a sunny spot, well-drained soil, a little fertilizer during the spring, and some deep watering during the summers.

General Appearance

Out of the 100 species, most are shrubs, while very few are trees. The largest of the species reach a height of about 30 meters, but most shrubs do not exceed 5 meters. They are either evergreen or deciduous.

In most species, the leaves are lanceolate and arranged in opposite pairs on the stem. Their length varies from 1 to 30 cm. The flowers are 10 to 50 cm long and are produced in dense panicles. The corolla of the flower is spread into four lobes, and each individual flower is 1 cm long and tubular in shape. The flowers are generally seen blossoming in colors like white, pink, red, purple, orange, and yellow. Being rich in color, they are usually strongly scented too. The fruits of the butterfly bush are shaped like small capsules; they are 1 cm long and about 2 mm in diameter. They contain innumerable seeds. In some species, the capsule is soft and fleshy like a berry.

The blossoms of the butterfly bush appear like lilac clusters, which can be almost two feet in length. The blossoms are spectacular, and after a rainfall, the narrow branches that support the blossoms droop to the ground. It is advisable to keep a distance of six feet between the bushes so as to keep a neat appearance and enjoy the beauty of the blossoms.

The plants mulch during the fall. Late in the winters, just before the new growths appear, the gardeners usually cut back the shrubs to a foot high. This enables the shrubs to attain a very good height by midsummer, and the flowers are much larger and neater looking in shape.

Selected List of Butterfly Bush
  • Buddleja dartmoor: The flowering side shoots of this variety give a bushy shape to the cluster of flowers which are either pink or purple in color and are blackberry scented.
  • Buddleja crispa: This blooms in the late spring and early summer. The flowers are pink in color, with an orange eye, and they appear in small clusters. The leaves are heart shaped with serrated edges.
  • Buddleja globosa: This one blooms in early summer. It has round clusters of flowers that are orange in color, and the leaves are large and leathery.
  • Buddleja asiatica: This type blooms in warm climate. Its flowers are white in color and are cut neatly. The leaves are rather large and felted in nature.
  • Buddleja fallowiana: This variety blooms during midsummer, and its flowers are either lavender or blue in color.
  • Buddleja lochinch: This type blooms in late summer or early fall, and it has lavender or blue-colored flowers with an orange eye. The leaves have a silvery shade.
  • Buddleja macrostachya: This species blooms during the middle or late summer. Its clusters of flowers are long, drooping, and lavender in color.
Hence, often planted as garden bushes, the butterfly bushes have become essential elements for modern butterfly gardens.
Buddleja globosa
Butterfly pollinating flowers