Just when so much of my summer garden begins to shut down for the season, my butterfly bush begins to take off.
(Journal News file photos)
In fact, it’s easily the best looking plant in my garden this week — nearly 9 feet tall and completely covered with lavender blooms and butterflies for much of the day. Hummingbirds and bees love it, too.
It’s been a great summer for butterfly bush (Buddleia davidii) — this gorgeous flowering shrub is absolutely unfazed by long periods of hot weather and high humidity and little rain.
Along with being drought and heat tolerant, it’s deer resistant, low maintenance and cold hardy throughout the Hudson Valley. This is a seriously great plant for home gardeners.
A word of caution, though — some gardeners find it to be an aggressive self-seeder. I’ve just had a couple of new volunteer plants over the years, but do keep an eye on it.
Buddleias like absolutely full sun. They will tolerate a range of soil conditions, but they prefer rich soil with good drainage.
The plants have long, arching branches with 10- to 18-inch flowering panicles. The honey-scented blooms come in a wide range of colors, including white, pink, blue, lavender, purple and yellow.
Don’t prune them after they finish blooming in the fall. The shrubs do much better if you wait until late winter or early spring, just when you see the first signs of new gray-green growth. Then you can prune them to about 12 inches from the ground. Besides, the silvery branches are quite attractive if you leave them up for the winter.
If you don’t have much space, try the new miniature buddleia from Proven Winners that’s called ‘Blue Chip.’ Unlike regular butterfly bushes, which reach a height of 6 to 10 feet by the end of the summer, this new one tops out at 2 to 3 feet. It’s perfect for small gardens and containers.