How to Garden a Butterfly Bush


The nectar-rich flowers of the butterfly bush (Buddleias) will attract butterflies to your garden. It will also lure in hummingbirds and "good" insects. There are more than 100 varieties of butterfly bush to choose from. The bottle brush-shaped blooms can be found in many different shades of purple, pink, white and red. This perennial plant can withstand temperatures of minus 20 degrees Fahrenheit, making it a viable choice for many locations.

Step 1

Pick a planting location that allows for full sun all or most of the day. If more than one bush is planted, space them 5 to 10 feet apart.

Step 2

Evaluate the soil and amend it as needed. The butterfly bush does best in a well-drained soil. This means it should be a sandy loam, if possible. If you have a clay-based soil, amend it with compost before you plant. To do this, dig up the ground soil to a depth of 1 to 1 1/2 feet. Remove all debris and break up dirt clods. Pour 2 inches of compost over the top and work it into the soil. Rake the ground even.

Step 3

Dig a hole that is two times the width of the original container. The depth should be the height of the soil in the original pot. Remove the butterfly bush and set it in the hole.

Step 4

Pour the prepared soil around the plant root soil, pressing down with your fingers as you go. This will compact the soil and give the plant structure. Water immediately after planting.

Step 5

Water your planted butterfly bush only about twice a month during the summer months or at other times when it is very warm and dry. If there is rain during the summer, do not water. Do not over-water. If given a choice, let the soil remain on the dryer side.

Step 6

Prune your bush nearly to the ground in early spring, before any growth appears. This plant is a quick grower and will give you new and healthy growth and blooms

Step 7

Sprinkle a small amount of compost under the butterfly bush each spring. This is all the fertilizer required by this plant.

Step 8

Place a 2-inch layer of mulch under the butterfly bush in spring to retain moisture to the roots. This will also deter weeds and protect the roots during cold spells.

Step 9

Clip off the spent blooms to keep the plant tidy. The blooms will not fall from the plant otherwise.

Things You'll Need

  • Butterfly bush
  • Shovel
  • Compost
  • Rake
  • Mulch
  • Garden clippers


  • Mountain Valley Growers: Butterfly Bushes
  • Maryland Cooperative Extension: Butterfly Bush Production
  • National Gardening Association: Butterfly Bush
Keywords: butterfly bush, butterfly bush care, butterfly bush planting

About this Author

Karen Ellis has been a full-time writer since 2006. She is an expert crafter, with more than 30 years of experience in knitting, chrocheting, quilting, sewing, scrapbooking and other arts. She is an expert gardener, with lifelong experience. Ellis has taken many classes in these subjects and taught classes, as well.