In full bloom this week: the bodacious butterfly bush. From June to October, each shrub flaunts long conical clusters of vibrant blooms that are irresistible to butterflies and hummingbirds.
The Butterfly Effect
With an abundance of nectar, these shrubs are a perfect hangout for any social butterfly. Their honey scented fragrance is a magnet to any passing butterfly. New cultivars come in a wide range of colors from white to fuchsia to dark purple and everything in between.
The Ground Rules
First things first, good soil is the basis for a good plant. When it comes to butterfly plants, they especially need well drained soil. The roots of this bush are particularly susceptible to rot, so they do not like sitting in moist soil.
When planting your Butterfly bush in the ground, dig a hole that is twice as wide, and just as deep at the container your shrub came in, but twice as wide. After removing the shrub from the container, gently loosen up the soil and the roots at the bottom and place in the center of the hole. Fill spaces with remaining soil, and give it a good watering.
It is fairly easy to grow a Butterfly Bush. This low maintenance plant is deer resistant, drought tolerant, and generally resistant to threatening bugs and diseases. It flourishes in zones 5 to 10 and demands full sun, at least 8 hours of rays a day. That is why mid-summer is the perfect time to plant your Butterfly bush. It can bask in the summer sun and there is ample time to allow the roots to establish before the winter frost threatens their survival.
Just a Little Patience...
In early spring, while many perennials are starting to sprout their new foliage, the Butterfly Bush remains idle. Do not worry if it takes until late spring for your bush to sprout foliage. Similarly, prune your bush in mid to late winter; the Butterfly Bush blooms on new wood, so pruning will promote growth of branches and flowers. We recommend to refrain from pruning and let your Butterfly Bush flourish like the wild child that it is.
The Butterfly Bush pairs beautifully with oriental grasses. Inter-plant with some Aster, Bee Balm, or Coneflowers, which provide shelter for caterpillars, to create a true butterfly garden. They also work perfectly to ground a perennial garden, or plant them side by side to create a privacy hedge that is to die for! Smaller, dwarf bushes can thrive in containers and here at Patuxent Nursery you can find a beautiful collection of ceramic pottery that will protect your plant throughout the winter months. Ask an associate for a pot with plenty of drainage holes to prevent overly moist soil.
Here are just a few of our favorite Butterfly Bushes available at Patuxent Nursery this week:
Lo and Behold Series:
Ice Chip: One of the the smallest Butterfly Bushes available, this mounded shrub blooms white conical flowers that are accented by its unique silvery foliage.
Blue Chip Jr: From summer to fall, deep blue clusters blanket this dwarf shrub.
Purple Haze: This Lo and Behold bush has a habit of growing wider than taller, reaching a circumference of 4 feet without being invasive to the surrounding plants. The dark purple blooms that pop out from the green foliage give this plant its name, purple haze.
Miss Molly: Good Golly Miss Molly! Like many of the new cultivars, this Butterfly Bush is noninvasive and good thing, because these can grow up to 8 feet tall, and 5 feet wide! These shrubs are perfect as a hedge to get a little privacy from the neighbors, just not from the butterflies that are mesmerized by the ruby pink flowers that cover the leafy green foliage.
White: No need to deadhead or prune these Pugster White shrubs, as they only grow up to 2 feet tall and wide. In the winter, they are cold hardy, the summer, drought hardy while producing long white flower clusters.
Periwinkle: At 2 feet tall, this may be a dwarf shrub, but its large flower clusters say otherwise. Summer through fall these purple flowers attract butterflies without producing extra seed pods that would need to be deadheaded.
Blue: This best selling Butterfly Bush has true blue flowers that are difficult to find anywhere else. Look closely and you will see a small orange eye in the center. It is especially cold hardy, sure to come back year after year.
Tutti Frutti: Oh Rudy! Growing up to 3 feet tall and wide, these bushes are a real show stopper. They boast vibrant fuchsia flower clusters that are sure to be butterfly magnets.
Black Knight: The flower spikes on the Black Knight shrub are a vibrant violet, that are a nice accent to the bright green foliage that surrounds it. They grow quickly once established and can reach up to 8 feet tall and 6 feet wide.
Nanho Blue: As one of the taller Butterfly Bushes, this shrub is nowhere near toned down. Its blue blooms are sure to pop in any garden from June to October. We recommend using it as the centerpiece for your perennial garden.
Don’t be shy, butterfly; I’ll see you at Patuxent!