The Butterfly Bush Plants

Buddleia alternifolia
Buddleia alternifolia

If you are looking for a plant that attracts both Butterfly’s, Hummingbirds and Bees then Buddleia (Buddleja) is very high on the list. However with many varieties to choose from the birds and the bees and the butterfly’s will be spoiled for choice.

With long arching stems, good green foliage and flowers that begin in spring and continue through summer into fall, Buddleia put on a long lasting show in the garden.

The flowers themselves hang in rather graceful panicles, ranging in color from white through to pinks and purples, and yellow as well.

A drought tolerant plant once established, they not only attract wildlife, but are also a great plant for hot sunny positions. Deer resistant, easy to prune and of course fragrant flowers all through spring into summer.


Buddleia fallowiana Lochinch
Buddleia fallowiana Lochinch

In a humus rich well drained soil Buddleia will not require much care at all once established. You can even neglect them for a number of years and they will continue to perform well. A little extra care and they will be brilliant.

  • Plant in a sunny position. The best time to plant is in early spring.
  • Water in well with a liquid seaweed fertilizer.
  • Water well through the first summer.
  • An annual pruning will do wonder for plants once they are 2 – 3 years old.


Many varieties are available for sale, and Buddleja do well in Zones 4-10 depending on cultivar. Buddleja davidii and Buddleja alternifiolia are the two most popular species.

We consider Buddleja fallowiana ‘Lochinch’ to be equally as good as any.
Flowers range from white to blue/mauve through to red but look for Buddleia Bi-Color for an interesting and different look.

  • Buddleja ‘White Ball’ and ‘White Profusion’ are well known white plants.
  • Buddleja ‘Silver Anniversary’ has great silvery foliage.
  • Buddleja asiatica ‘Spring Promise’ has rather delicate flowers.
  • Buddleja salviifolia is known as ‘South African Sage Wood’.
  • Cultivars such as Buddleja ‘royal red’ and Buddleja ‘black night’ are also popular.

Dwarf Buddleja

New ‘dwarf’ or low growing cultivars are now available for sale online, these Buddlias will grow to 1/3 of the size of normal plants, look for Buddleia davidii ‘Pyrkeep’, ‘Purple Emperor’ and Buddleia davidii ’empire blue’.

Pruning Buddleia

The best time to prune Buddleia is in spring, wait for the frost to go.

Pruning keeps the plant at a good size, makes them look tidy and removes older dead or damaged wood.. Pruning  also increases flowering  and that is always a good thing

Time of the Year to Prune

You can prune in late summer, however only a light prune at this time, especially in colder zones so that growth is left on the plant over winter to offer some protection.

Prunning Tools you may need

  • Secateurs
  • Pruning Saw – See Notes
  • Loppers
  • Chain saw – Yes a small chain saw is great for hard pruning larger overgrown plants.

Make sure your pruning tools are clean before starting. (See Below)

How to prune

Buddleia should be pruned back by 1/3 every year, with older canes being removed every 3 – 4 years.

Older plants can be hard pruned back if you wish to regenerate the plant. So in this case prune back by 2/3.

Most varieties flower on new growth, so pruning is in late winter to spring.

  • Start by removing any old dead or damaged wood.
  • Unwanted, errant or badly placed canes are next.
  • Prune away 1/3 of the Buddleia making all cuts above a node.
  • Old woody stems can be removed at around 1ft (30cm) above ground level.
  • If you try pruning back into very old wood, the chances are it will not shoot, however this will not really harm the plant.
  • Any stems that do not re-shooot can simply be lopped right off later on.

Care After Pruning

  • Water immediately after pruning to assist the plant with regrowth.
  • Fertilise with a slow release fertiliser to provide the plant with essential nutrients
  • Mulch around the plant to maintain a cool moist root run and help suppress weeds.

What if I leave by Buddleia unpruned?

These are fast growing shrubs and even the smaller or dwarf types will become leggy, overgrown and untidy if not pruned. Flowering will also not be as profuse if the plant is not pruned.

Also, regular pruning is easier and keeps the plant looking healthy and tidy and flowers will be produces lower down the shrub on new growth.

Buddleia alternifolia and globesa differ, they flower on old wood, so prune these in summer after flowering for best results.

Where to Buy

Buddleia Plants are available for sale from the following nurseries.

Offering a wide selection of bulbs, perennials, grasses, herbs trees and shrubs. Includes: Buddleia

500 N. Sequim Ave. Sequim, WA 98382
Small mail order nursery with a very interesting range of perennials and other plants.