Want to start a butterfly garden to attract beneficial bugs and pollinators to your yard? Want an easy plant to start with? How about Buddleia or Butterfly Bush? Here’s our garden quick tip for this month – short and sweet and easy to swallow in a few minutes.
Butterfly Garden – it begins with the Butterfly Bush
Many of you have probably seen Buddleia (Buddleia davidii), or as it’s commonly known, Butterfly Bush, in yards around your neighborhood or community. It comes in a variety of colors, including pinks, white, purples and there’s even one referred to as a rainbow bush for it’s variety of colors.
These evergreen bushes are hardy from about zone 5 to 9 and will tolerate a range of soils, although they like drainage. They require heavy pruning every year so that they don’t grow to take over the world; some varieties can get to be 12 feet tall but there is a dwarf variety called Bluechip that I’ve grown before and liked. In some places Buddleia is considered invasive because, if you don’t deadhead them, the flowers will form seed pods, fall and sprout weedy baby Buddleia.
In short, deadhead your plants during the season (quit sighing, it doesn’t take that long) to prevent them from becoming a nuisance in the garden and to encourage new flowers to appear. Butterfly Bushes reward you with blooms all spring and summer that attract, not only butterflies, but all manner of pollinating insects.
Buddleia really don’t require fertilizer in most soils and will take care of themselves (minus the pruning), growing and blooming year in, year out. Water deeply and infrequently. Mulch the roots with several inches of wood chips in cold winter areas. Group Buddleia with spring blooming bulbs, rugosa roses and Michaelmas daisies for pleasing butterfly garden plants early spring through fall.
Since Buddleia will provide nectar for your butterfly garden but not much in the way of leaves that caterpillars like to munch on, consider planting these other butterfly friendly plants to encourage happy pollinators to stay, eat and breed:
Lindera benzoin, spicebush
Clethra alnifolia, sweet pepperbush
Cornus spp., dogwood
Kalmia latifolia, mountain laurel
Salix discolor, pussy willow
Spiraea alba, narrowleaf meadowsweet
Viburnum sargentii, Sargent’s cranberry bush
And, of course, you can consult this informative e-book for other ideas to round out your butterfly garden.
Any herbalists want to chime in on the medicinal properties of Buddleia – this article was fascinating to me but I’d never heard of Butterfly Bush being medicinal. Buddleia is a native of Asia and Chinese traditional medicine is pretty cool, soooo….Speaking of herbalists, Herbal Academy of New England has a great article on herbs for theme gardens, including butterfly gardens – to read the article, click here. To learn more about the many, many useful herbs you could include in your butterfly garden consider joining the Herbarium from Herbal Academy of New England; it’s like an online, herbal encyclopedia with all kinds of fun features.
If you’re going to grow milkweed for your butterfly garden, especially the Monarch butterflies, you’ll want to read this post from Tenth Acre Farm about some pests you may have to deal with on the milkweed.
Anyone have tips or tricks for growing Buddleia? Anyone have a different favorite plant for the butterfly garden?
To begin your butterfly garden adventures, you may need these fine products: