How to Care for Butterfly Plants

Overview

Butterfly bush will burst forth in colorful, butterfly-shaped blooms when other blooming shrubs have long since faded. Butterfly bush will remain green all year round, even if temperatures drop as low as 20 degrees F. In colder climates, butterfly bush may freeze clear to the ground, but will burst out with new growth the following spring. Although most varieties of butterfly bush will bloom bluish-purple, some will bloom in shades of dark purple, pure white and pink. Consider planting butterfly bush in a container to contain the plant's aggressive growth.

Step 1

Call your local Cooperative Extension Office before planting butterfly bush. In some areas, butterfly bush is considered to be a noxious weed. See Resources for Cooperative Extension offices in your area.

Step 2

Plant the butterfly bush in full sunlight. Be sure the soil drains well, and avoid planting the butterfly bush where rainwater pools for more than 4 to 5 hours.

Step 3

Water the butterfly bush once a week during hot, dry weather, Otherwise, normal rainfall will provide adequate moisture.

Step 4

Apply 2 to 3 inches of organic mulch such as shredded bark, pine needles or dry leaves around the base of the butterfly bush to control weeds and retain moisture. If the layer of organic mulch is maintainer, the butterfly bush will need no additional fertilizer.

Step 5

Prune the butterfly bush anytime the bush grows too large, or appears to be growing out of control. Remove any dead or weak branches, and prune enough to restore the bush to the desired size and shape. Burn the pruned branches, or dispose of them in a sealed container. Dig up and dispose of any volunteer butterfly bushes.

Step 6

Remove blooms from the butterfly bush as soon as they fade, and dispose of the blooms in a sealed bag. Never leave the clippings on the ground. Depending on the variety, one butterfly bush plant can produce 3 million seeds in a single year.

Tips and Warnings

  • Plant butterfly bush with great care, as it is an invasive plant. Butterfly plant can be especially harmful in timbered areas, and can do significant damage to the ecosystem.

Things You'll Need

  • Organic mulch
  • Pruners

References

  • Oregon State University: Unwanted Weed, Butterfly Bush
  • Oregon State University Extension: How to Keep Butterfly Bush From Spreading Noxiously
  • Yardener: Caring For Butterfly Bush

Who Can Help

  • United States Department of Agriculture: Cooperative Extension System Offices
Keywords: butterfly bush, butterfly plant, invasive plant

About this Author

M.H. Dyer is a long-time writer, editor and proofreader. She has been a contributor to the East-Oregonian Newspaper and See Jane Run magazine, and is author of a memoir, “The Tumbleweed Chronicles, a Sideways Look at Life." She holds an Master of Fine Arts from National University, San Diego.