Instructions for Planting a Butterfly Bush


Covered with pretty, conical-shaped blooms of tiny nodding flowers, the butterfly bush is a popular bedding perennial in climate zones 5 to 9. Although in colder climates the bush needs more care, this attractive shrub may reach heights of up to 10 feet. Buddleia davidii, the most common butterfly bush species, contains a host of varieties with bloom colors of pink, blue, purple, white and red. Follow a few simple guidelines for successful planting and care.

Step 1

Choose a location in full sun. Excellent drainage is essential for the butterfly bush to thrive.

Step 2

Prepare soil with a pH level between 6.0 and 7.0 for best results. A soil test may be performed with a home test kit, which can provide recommendations for amendment if necessary.

Step 3

Incorporate three to four inches of organic matter, such as composted pine bark, to a depth of one foot. This practice increases drainage and promotes better long-term growth.

Step 4

Plant the butterfly bush with the crown of roots just below surface level. Stems sprout from the crown, and in cooler climate zones the bush may die back to this level every winter. Protect the crown by keeping it covered with soil at all times.

Step 5

Apply up to three inches of organic mulch, such as pine needles, over the surface of the planting site and maintain the layer over the winter to protect the butterfly bush's crown.

Step 6

Remove spent blooms before they can go to seed. Otherwise, the butterfly bush will spend energy creating seeds rather than blooms, and will drop seeds that may create new starts in undesirable places.

Step 7

Prune the butterfly bush in early spring prior to new growth, as it flowers on new stems. Prune heavily, down to one foot above the ground, to encourage more profuse blooming and create a better shape.

Things You'll Need

  • Butterfly bush
  • Shovel
  • Organic matter
  • Organic mulch


  • University of Illinois Extension Plant Palette: Butterfly Bush
  • Michigan State University Extension: Buddleia davidii--Butterfly-bush
  • Clemson University Cooperative Extension: Butterfly Bush
Keywords: planting butterfly bushes, butterfly bush care, growing butterfly bushes

About this Author

Desirae Roy holds a Bachelor of Arts in elementary education, with a focus on reading and special education. Also an interpreter for the deaf, she facilitates communication for students who learn in an inspiring way. Roy cultivates a life long love of learning and enjoys sharing her journey with others through writing.