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Butterfly Bush Diseases

A Must-read for Plant Lovers: Diseases That Affect Butterfly Bushes

Butterfly bushes are planted in gardens to attract butterflies. If you are planning to plant some, then you must be aware of the diseases that they are vulnerable to.
Sheeba Nambiar
Last Updated: Mar 6, 2018
Buddleja Davidii is the common botanical name for butterfly bushes, which are flowering plants or shrubs that are planted to attract butterflies in the garden. It is a fast growing shrub that requires not much, but a little care. Depending on the cultivar, these bushes can grow 5 to 15 feet tall, and blossom in white, blue, purple or red. Butterfly bushes generally grow in well-drained soil and are tolerant to alkaline soils and pollution.
Having said that, we cannot ignore the fact that these pretty, fragrant flowers are also susceptible to diseases. With a little care and attention, however, these problems can be resolved and the butterflies can continue to flock in your garden. Planting can be done in a pot for the small bushes, but the medium and the large-sized bushes should be spread across as a perennial bed or as hedge plants. An infection would not only change the beauty and visual appearance of your garden, but it will also result in less number of butterflies coming to your garden.
» Downy Mildew
A fungal infection caused by fungal agents is called downy mildew, which use butterfly bushes as their host plants. Many plants are susceptible to this infection. However, the cultivar Buddleja is vulnerable to the downy mildew disease. A fungal infection could be mild or severe. It is mostly spread during cold temperatures and moist conditions. It has high chances of infection when the leaves remain wet for a long period of time.
» Spider Mites
Spider mites look like specks of dust hiding under the leaves of the plant. Webbing between the leaves can also be noticed if the plant is home to spider mites.
» Excessive Water/Bad Drainage
Butterfly bushes only require moist soil. Too much of water will result in rotting roots, that has the potential to kill the plant. Hence, it is important to keep a check on the soil drainage, by draining off excess water around the plant.
» Invasiveness
Invasiveness is not a disease. Apparently, it is a problem that is caused because these bushes have a tendency to spread quickly due to their rampant growth. It obstructs the growth of other native species of plants in the garden by invading into their area.
  • As downey mildew/ fungal infection is caused due to the result of wet leaves, we must ensure that the bushes are well-spaced, and that they get enough sun exposure for the leaves to dry off quickly. You could also use an approved fungicide that gets rid of the fungi, and does not harm the butterflies. Sanitization of the pruning tools will also subside the chances of fungal infection.
  • Regular spraying or sprinkling of water is an effective technique to prevent the plants from being infected by spider mites. You might think of spraying a pesticide instead, but it is not recommended as it would also kill the butterflies, that come to drink the sweet nectar out of the flowers. Water would be sufficient to keep the spider mites away.
  • Butterfly bushes do not require daily watering, you could water it every three days or so, during normal weather conditions. However, during summers, you will need to water them daily. While watering the plant, you must ensure that you are not doing it excessively.
  • Sometimes, you might not find your plant blooming well. The reason could be the mineral content in the soil. Excess or lack of minerals can result in dull and discolored foliage. For this, all you need is an at-home soil testing kit to conduct a soil test, and based on the result, use the right fertilizer to balance the mineral content in the soil.
  • It is important to regularly prune the bushes, especially in winters. Pruning would help to prevent invasiveness, and also help in better growth of the bushes, as dead and diseased branches are removed in this process.
Growing butterfly shrubs is not a very difficult task. With proper maintenance, this plant can make your garden look beautiful. If the above mentioned points are kept in mind regarding the plant diseases, then your garden can continue to play host to the butterflies.
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