UACES Facebook Butterfly Bush

Butterfly Bush

June 1, 2016

QuestionI am enjoying the butterfly bushes that I planted last year and the butterflies are also.

Tell me please, what I do with the pods after the blooms are gone, do I cut them off or leave them on the bush?  They seem to be full of seeds.  However, I tried earlier in the spring to plant some that I have harvested last fall, and it did not work.


AnswerButterfly bushes, or buddleia, do germinate from seed, but I would recommend dead-heading the spent blooms to increase the number of new flowers set.  If you want to propagate this bush, an easy method is via layering one of the lower limbs, or it also roots readily from cuttings.  Many of the newer varieties are seedless, so you don’t have to deadhead to keep them flowering. 


(August 2012)

QuestionI have had a Black Knight Buddleia for a little over a year. It has become "leggy" - leaves dropping - and fewer blooms. It gets sufficient water. I know it blooms on new growth, but how much of the shrub should be pruned?

AnswerBuddleia or butterfly bush does bloom on the new growth, and should be pruned annually in late February, before new growth kicks in. This year, we had such an early spring and non-existent winter, that many of the butterfly bushes never went dormant, and never stopped blooming. Many people thought they missed their pruning opportunity and either didn’t prune, or didn’t prune enough. That has resulted in leggy plants and fewer blooms. The same thing has happened on some roses as well. For now, deadhead and lightly prune, give it a light application of fertilizer and it can continue to flower through late fall. Even if we don’t have a winter, prune it back by at least half if not more, next February. The plant should then fill out and give you greater flowering.

(Nov. 2008)

QuestionWe have beautiful "Wine and Roses" weigela shrubs, about 3 yrs. old, and their showy blossoms were absolutely gorgeous this spring. My husband did a little conservative trimming, and they bloomed again a little bit in late summer. They are getting tall, and I think I want to keep them at a manageable height. When is the best time to prune back the branches and how should we do it? Is it too late now? I have the same issue with several butterfly bushes. Is it too late to prune back now, and how is the best way to trim/prune?

AnswerFor pruning questions, keep in mind what season the plants bloom--or at least supposed to bloom. We often get errant flowers on a few spring blooming plants in the fall, but their main flush of flowers is in the spring. Spring blooming plants set flower buds in the late summer to fall period. Pruning should be done as soon after flowering in the spring as possible. This allows them ample time to recover and set plenty of flowers for the next year. For the weigela, it is a cane producing plant that makes a living fountain in the landscape. To keep it free flowing, prune immediately after bloom in the spring by removing up to one third of the older canes at the base. Pruning it now would remove next spring’s blooms. On the butterfly bush, it blooms on the new season growth during the growing season. It should be pruned hard before new growth begins in late February to early March. Depending on what size plant you want, you can take it back by one half or almost to the ground each season.

(March 2005)

QuestionCan I cut back the forsythia after it blooms? And isn't it time to cut back the Rose of Sharon bushes, crepe myrtles and butterfly bushes?

AnswerForsythia should be pruned after bloom. Remove one third of the old canes down at the soil line to encourage new growth. There is still time to prune Rose-of-Sharon, crape myrtle and butterfly bush, as all of these plants bloom on the current season growth. Try to do it soon since new growth is beginning.

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