How to Plant a Butterfly Bush


The butterfly bush (Buddleja davidii) goes by several other common names, including orange eye butterfly bush, buddleia and summer lilac. The butterfly bush is a deciduous to semi-evergreen shrub that generates massive amounts of colorful, fragrant blossoms from the middle of summer to autumn each year on long, arcing branches. The flowers attract butterflies, and the bush can reach heights up to 12 feet with spreads ranging from 4 to 15 feet, according to Butterfly bushes grow best in USDA hardiness zones 5 to 9 or 10.

Step 1

Select an area in your yard to plant a butterfly bush that provides full sun, well-drained soil. Space each butterfly bush 5 to 10 feet away from other plants, or more depending on the variety you are growing.

Step 2

Clear the area of all vegetation. Cultivate the soil to a depth of at least 1 foot. Add 2 to 4 inches of compost and cultivate it into the soil. Dig a hole two times as wide, and the same depth of the container holding the butterfly bush for each plant. The planting height of the butterfly bush should equal the height it was at in the container.

Step 3

Remove the butterfly bush from its container and inspect the roots. Cut off or loosen roots, if needed. Place the bush in the hole, spreading out the roots. Backfill the hole with the removed soil, and press soil around the bush carefully to compact it.

Step 4

Drench the butterfly bush with water to remove any air pockets in the soil. Add more dirt if the rootball of the plant is exposed after watering. Supply 1 inch of water weekly to the butterfly bush throughout the growing season, if rainfall fails to.

Step 5

Cover the area around each butterfly bush with 2 to 4 inches of mulch to prevent weeds from growing in the area, and retain moist soil conditions. Reapply mulch yearly, as needed.

Things You'll Need

  • Rake
  • Shovel
  • Hoe
  • Mechanized tiller (optional)
  • Compost
  • Knife
  • Pruning shears
  • Mulch


  • Auburn University: Buddleja davidii
  • Floridata: Buddleja davidii
  • National Gardening Association: Butterfly Bush

Who Can Help

  • Ohio State University: Buddleia davidii
Keywords: Buddleja davidii, orangeeye butterflybush, summer lilac

About this Author

Diane Dilov-Schultheis has been writing professionally since 2000. She is a food and travel writer who also specializes in gaming, satellites, RV repair, gardening, finances and electronics. She is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists and has been published on Yahoo!, the Travel Channel and Intel.