How to Clone a Butterfly Bush


The butterflybush -- or Buddleia davidii, as it is known in Latin -- is a beautiful bush to add color to your yard and provide food for butterflies and hummingbirds. It grows quickly, sometimes 5 to 8 feet in a season, with long, arching canes of purple, pink, white, or red blossoms. Clone the bush by taking clippings and getting them to root.

Step 1

Search for a section of wood that is not woody and not green. If you get the cutting during late July to early August, the plant will have had enough time to produce a branch that gets some lateral branches and harden off a little so it is not quite as soft as green growth. Test it by bending it until it breaks with a snap. Green wood will just bend and hard wood will not bend at all.

Step 2

Cut off a section of the lateral branch that is about 4 or 5 inches long and with two or three sets of leaves. Immediately place it in a damp paper towel so that you do not expose it to sunlight and bag it until you are ready to go inside and plant it.

Step 3

Prepare the rooting medium by mixing perlite and peat moss in the ratio of 3 to 2 parts. Soak it so that there are no dry pockets and allow it to drain. Scoop it into individual 8-oz. plant pots and poke a 2-inch hole where you want to place the cutting.

Step 4

Remove the cutting from the damp paper towel and take off the bottom leaves and dip it into some rooting hormone powder and then directly into the prepared hole. Press the soil in around it so there is good contact.

Step 5

Place the whole plant pot with the cutting into a plastic bag and close it up to hold the moisture in and to provide a humid environment for the cutting. Keep it in a mild spot where it will be out of direct sunlight and about 65 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit, for six weeks.

Step 6

Tug gently on the rootings after the waiting time to see if they have rooted successfully. Expect a 70 percent success rate for butterfly bush cuttings. Remove the plastic bag as soon as you see signs of growth and place in a sunny window.

Step 7

Place the new clone of your butterfly bush into the garden when there is no chance of frost. Plant it at the same height as it was indoors and keep as much of the original soil around the roots as possible. Water well until established.

Things You'll Need

  • Pruning shears
  • Paper towels
  • Plastic bag
  • Rooting medium (3 to 2, perlite to peat moss)
  • Plant pot
  • Rooting hormone


  • University of Connecticut: Buddleia Davidii
  • Garden Advice: How to Grow Shrubs from Softwood Cuttings
Keywords: how to clone butterfly bush, Propagate butterfly bush, rooting butterflybush cuttings

About this Author

Based in Maryland, Heidi Braley, currently writes for local and online media outlets. Some of Braley's articles from the last 10 years are in the "Oley Newsletter," "Connections Magazine," GardenGuides and Braley's college life included Penn State University and Villanova University with her passions centered in nutrition and botany.