Butterfly Bushes

    • Calibrachoa, or Million Bells, look like miniature petunias and come in many unusual shades and blends. Plant them in full sun for a profusion of flowers from spring to frost.
    • Mulch blueberry plants with aged sawdust and feed with cottonseed meal or an acid fertilizer.
    • When you plant your vegetable garden, why not grow a little extra to donate to the Willits Food Bank this summer.
    • Set out zinnias, cosmos, impatiens and begonias for lots of colorful flowers all summer long.
    • Star jasmine is an evergreen vine that prefers some shade. The fragrant blossoms fill the June air with their sweet scent.

Bring butterflies to your garden with Buddleias

Buddleias, commonly known as butterfly bushes, are fine shrubs for the garden. They have large, fragrant, colorful flowers that attract a flutter of butterflies into your summer garden. Their long summer bloom gives them their other common name, summer lilac.

These eye-catching plants are loved by butterflies. When the blossoms are open, you can be sure that butterflies will be abundant. Monarchs, swallowtails, fritillaries and many other nectar drinkers are attracted to the fragrant flower clusters. Hummingbirds also visit Buddleias, so plant them where you can enjoy them up close.

Buddleias can be used in many different ways. Compact types are nice in the perennial or mixed border, for small gardens or for large containers. Larger types, which grow 8-12 feet tall, do best in the background or as part of a tall shrub border.

These are very forgiving plants. They take almost any well-drained soil, and can stand considerable drought. Although they flower best in full sun, they will also bloom in light or filtered shade.

Standard Buddleias grow as wide-spreading, open shrubs. They work best as background plants. The flowers come in 6-8 inch long clusters at the ends of the branches beginning in July and continue until frost.

Colors range from the true pink of ‘Pink Delight’ to wine-purple of ‘Royal Red’ and dark purple of ‘Black Knight.’ The unusual variety ‘Harlequin’ has bright, variegated leaves and reddish-purple flower spikes. It grows 6-7 feet tall.

Butterfly bushes are a little unruly-looking so they may not have a place in a formal garden. But given sunshine and room to grow, they are a wonderful addition to the yard. They can be used in the flower border or as the focal point for a large open area. They are hardy and easy to grow.

Since standard Buddleias are too big for many gardens, a number of new dwarf varieties are now available. Buddleias davidii ‘Nanho’ grows to only 6 feet tall with smaller leaves and flower clusters.

A new series called Buddleia Buzz™ grows only 3-4 feet tall. They are excellent in containers and bloom over a long season, bringing butterflies and hummingbirds to your patio or deck. They come in all shades of purple. Buddleia ‘Dwarf Snappy Blue’ is another dwarf variety that grows 3 feet tall and 4 feet wide.

In addition, Buddleias make good cut flowers, are mostly allergy free, and are drought tolerant once established. And deer generally leave them alone.

Buddleias bloom on new growth so they can be pruned to control size and shape without affecting the flowering. Deadheading through the summer will produce maximum bloom.

Incidentally, Buddleia is sometimes spelled Buddleja, but both are pronounced “BUD-lee-ah.” Also, they can be invasive and reseed freely in some climates, but they are not known to be invasive in California. Buddleias will also attract bees that will pollinate other plants in your garden.

Don’t confuse butterfly bush plants with butterfly weed (Asclepias tuberosa). Butterfly weed is a type of milkweed and serves as a host for the caterpillars of monarch butterflies as well as a nectar source. It is a perennial that dies down to the ground in winter.

Plant colorful Buddleias in your garden and enjoy the beautiful butterflies that visit them.

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