How to Plant & Care for a Butterfly Bush


Butterfly bush (Buddleia davidii) is an attractive, showy shrub popular for the cone-shaped sprays of flowers that cover the plant in late spring and early summer. These bushes are available in a variety of colors including purple, white, pink and even orange. As its name suggests, butterflies will swarm the bush when blooms appear, and you are likely to see some hummingbirds as well. Butterfly bush is fairly hardy and will thrive as long as its basic growing requirements are met. Plant butterfly bush in a location that is well-drained and receives full to partial sun most of the day.

Step 1

Loosen the soil 12 to 15 inches deep with a garden fork. Mix in a 4-inch layer of organic compost.

Step 2

Dig a hole that is two times the diameter and the same depth as the container the butterfly bush is growing in. Gently squeeze the sides of the container until the root ball slides out easily. Loosen any compacted roots with your fingers and plant, making sure the top of the root ball is at soil level. Replace the loosened soil and pat down firmly.

Step 3

Water until the soil is thoroughly saturated, but not soggy.

Step 4

Add a 3-inch layer of organic mulch to prevent the growth of weeds and help retain moisture.

Step 5

Continue to water well whenever there is a lack of rainfall during the first growing season. This will help to ensure that a strong root system develops before harsh winter weather arrives.

Step 6

Clip off spent flowers to improve the bush's appearance and encourage a new wave of blooms to appear.

Step 7

Add a 4-inch layer of organic mulch in early fall to help protect the roots during the winter months.

Step 8

Prune off the dead wood in early spring, after all danger of frost for your area, to promote new growth.

Tips and Warnings

  • Do not over water butterfly bush, as they are very susceptible to root rot if kept too moist. If you are growing the "Fountain" variety of butterfly bush do not prune, as this bush produces blooms on old wood.

Things You'll Need

  • Garden fork
  • Shovel
  • Organic compost
  • Organic mulch
  • Pruning shears


  • Yardener: Caring for a Butterfly Bush
  • University of Maryland: Butterfly Bush Production and Consumer Care
  • National Gardening Association: Butterfly Bush
  • Floridata: Buddleja davidii
Keywords: butterfly bush, buddleja davidii, plant butterfly bush, grow butterfly bush

About this Author

Annita Lawson has been working as a freelance writer since 2004. Her work has been published in various web and print outlets, including The Dabbling Mum, A Virtuous Woman, and Pediatrics for Parents. Lawson is pursuing an Associate of Arts degree at Southeast Kentucky Community College. She enjoys sharing all that she has learned about parenting, healthy eating and living a frugal lifestyle.