How to Trim a Butterfly Bush


A butterfly bush attracts not just butterflies, but also hummingbirds and bees. Its sweet-smelling flowers bloom from spring until the first frost in the fall. Butterfly bushes flower only on the current season's growth, which means that any limbs remaining from previous years will not bloom. Without trimming--or pruning--over time, your butterfly bush will become woody and blooms will be sparse. For this reason, a butterfly bush should be pruned every year, and late winter or early spring before new growth begins is the ideal time to do so.

Step 1

Pinch off old spent blooms during the growing season to encourage more flowers.

Step 2

Clean your pruning tools, such as sharp hand clippers or lopping shears, especially if you have pruned diseased plants with the same tools. Dip a rag in some rubbing alcohol and wipe the blades of your pruning tools down before you use them.

Step 3

Remove the soil that you may have mounded around the crown of the plant for winter protection.

Step 4

Trim back the entire bush within 2 to 3 inches of the ground. Make clean cuts. Do not rip the stems off--even just a little bit---to finish the cut.

Things You'll Need

  • Pruning tool
  • Rubbing alcohol


  • University of Arkansas: Buddleia (Butterfly Bush)
  • Iowa State University Extension: Growing Butterfly Bushes in the Home Landscape
  • Hand Tools For Pruning
Keywords: trim butterfly bush, prune butterfly bush, cutting back butterfly bush

About this Author

Melissa Lewis has been a professional writer since 2005. Her work has appeared in various online publications. A former elementary classroom teacher and media specialist, Lewis is also a script writer, with a movie script, "Homecoming," she co-wrote currently in production. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in psychology.