Butterfly Bush Planting
Butterfly bushes should be planted in a sunny/partly shady area with well-draining soil. If the soil stays too moist, the plant will rot. Butterfly bushes are hardy plants that tolerate Zones 5, 6, 7, 8, and 9. These plants are considered an invasive species in many areas, so checking with your local extension office can ensure that you don’t break any rules.
You should allot your bushes plenty of room. You can look at the plant tag and see the mature size of the bush you purchased. To save from having to severely prune your Butterfly bush, leave room for the bush to grow comfortably to its full size. Most Butterfly bushes grow 6-12 feet tall and can spread anywhere from 4-15 feet in width.
Watering Butterfly Bushes
Once you plant your Butterfly bush, it should be watered regularly. Once a week slowly and deeply will help the plant’s roots to establish. When you water once weekly, make sure that the plant and soil are not appearing to be soggy or overwatered. When Butterfly bushes sit in wet soil, it can cause root rot.
Butterfly bushes will tell you when they need to be watered. One sign is wilted leaves or wilted flowers (this is different from sun damaged or dead flowers).
Older, established shrubs can handle short periods of drought, but should be watered deeply when temperatures reach 85 degrees or higher. Butterfly bushes should be watered slowly and watered deep during dry spells. This ensures that the water will absorb deep into the root zone. Older bushes may survive fine without lots of watering but will flower better with water. Make sure that you do not overwater, however, since that tends to rot the roots and cause too much growth within stems and leaves, changing the amount of flowering you will receive in the spring.
Fertilizing Butterfly Bushes
If your Butterfly bush is planted in good soil, you should not need to fertilize it. If your soil is in poor condition, a 2-inch layer of compost will help. There is also the option of raking in general-purpose fertilizer over the root zone.
After fertilizing, cover with a 2–4-inch layer of mulch to protect the roots during the winter.
Butterfly Bush Pruning
One of the most important and time-consuming parts of caring for Butterfly bushes is deadheading. This means taking all the old, dead flower clusters off of the plant. This ensures that the bush’s energy does not go all towards trying to keep the dead flowers alive.
During the spring and summer, seed pods will release seeds, so make sure to remove the seedlings from the ground below. Cutting off at ground level will leave the roots so that the plant will continue to grow, so make sure to get the roots as you remove the seedlings. Transplanting the seedlings is not recommended as they will most likely not turn out as attractive as the parent plant since most Butterfly bushes are hybrids.
Potting Butterfly Bushes
Butterfly bushes do best in the ground with plenty of space to grow, but if you really want to grow yours in a container or pot, choosing a whiskey barrel with drainage holes is the best choice. Make sure that the container is deep enough to hold all the roots as the plants grow and heavy enough to keep the plant from being top heavy and falling over. If you decide to use a different container, make sure that it has good drainage holes.
The pot should be filled with lightweight potting mix. Commercial brand will work fine, as long as it is not garden soil. This is too heavy and dense, causing root rot and plant death.
Choose plants that will not grow too large, as you do not want your container to be insufficient. Some varieties that might work well are the Dwarf varieties. These include Petite Snow and Petite Plum, Nanho Purple and Nanho White. These usually grow around 4-5 feet in height.
Common Issues for Butterfly Bushes
Spider mites are insects that attack stressed bushes during dry spells. Spider mites can be removed with a spray or insecticidal soap. When they feed, it does not cause holes in leaves. However, a fine webbing will show up on the underside of the leaves, taking away some of the green color of the leaves.
Downy mildew will appear on leaves if the bush has been wet for an extended amount of time in cool weather. Irrigating the bushes will allow the water on the leaves to dry out in the sunshine.
Butterfly Bush Planting