If you’re looking for a shrub that will attract hummingbirds and butterflies and also produce very sweet-smelling, attractive flowers, look no further. Butterfly bush really lives up to its name. When it is blooming, I see butterflies on it frequently. Hummingbirds seem to enjoy the nectar as well.
Where to Plant a Butterfly Bush
Butterfly bushes are hardy in zones 5-10 and need full sun. Once established, they don’t require much water (as the last 4 weeks of no rain in my garden has proven!). They prefer fertile, well-drained soil. The roots will rot when left in wet soil for long.
Bunch butterfly bushes together (about 5 feet apart at the least) to create a really nice visual barrier, or add one into your landscape for a bit of variety and to provide nectar for insects and hummingbirds.
In parts of the U.S., this bush may be considered invasive – be sure to check your region before planting.
About Butterfly Bush
- Perennial (comes back each year)
- Deciduous (will lose its leaves in the fall)
- Grows up to 8-10 feet tall
- Gets about 4-10 feet wide
- Comes in several colors (pink, white, yellow, purple, etc.)
- Flowers smell really sweet
- Fast growing
- Long flowering period (all summer and into the fall for some!)
- Very low maintenance once established
How to Propagate
You can propagate your butterfly bush by taking cuttings. Take a cutting (6-8 inches is plenty long) from a healthy looking stem, remove the leaves from the bottom 3-4 inches and put it in potting soil that has already been moistened. If you wish, cover the cutting with a loose-fitting plastic bag to ensure humidity (try to keep the bag off of the plant – use popsicle sticks for this). If you have decent humidity or if you can mist the plant regularly, then just be sure to keep the soil moist. Keep the cutting in the shade for the first few weeks and then gradually move it into the sun once you see signs of new growth.
I visited a friend’s garden and obtained some cuttings from her yellow butterfly bush. They have been sitting in moist soil for about three weeks now. I can see signs that some of them are rooting already.
You can also propagate butterfly bush by dividing the roots in early spring or fall. Dig up the mature plant, being sure to get the entire root ball – then separate the roots by hand or using a shovel. Plant in containers or back in your garden and be sure to keep watered for a while.
Prune your butterfly bush in the spring, just before the new growth starts, about a foot or so from the ground. This will encourage more blooms.
You can remove spent flowers to extend blooming period – although I don’t expend the effort to do this and the bushes bloom just fine.
If you’re in a colder climate, you should add a few inches of mulch to the base of your plant just before winter. This will help protect the roots from the cold. Mulching in the spring can also help reduce the growth of weeds and retain moisture around the roots.
This is not a plant native to the United States, but is common in many gardens. Butterfly bush hails from China and Japan.
Video from My Garden
As you can see in this video – I caught this swallowtail butterfly feeding on the butterfly bush. During the video a hummingbird moth also feeds on the flower.