How to Winterize a Butterfly Bush


Prepare your perennials for winter to ensure a vibrant showing in spring. Winterizing butterfly bushes (Buddleia davidii) provides for the plant's safety and continued health during its dormant phase. Winterizing butterfly bushes requires only a small amount of time, and the effort will pay off when the plants return in the spring with beautiful, fragrant blooms.

Step 1

Remove any debris and weeds growing around the base of the butterfly bush.

Step 2

Cut the butterfly bush back to around 4 feet tall, or all the way back to the ground. Hardy perennials, butterfly bush will enter a dormant phase during the winter in most planting zones. The best time for a final pruning of butterfly bush is late fall. If you choose to trim the butterfly bush back to ground level, placing a stake or other type of marker at the site to remind you of its location when spring arrives.

Step 3

Add mulch around the base of the butterfly bush to keep roots from drying out over the winter. A sun-loving perennial, butterfly bush roots are more prone to rot. Too much mulch on the root system can promote rot so apply only a thin layer of mulch around the plant. Use a variety of natural items for mulch, such as sawdust, leaves, wood chips or grass clippings. Arrange mulch to within 1 to 2 inches of the base of the butterfly bush.

Step 4

Dispose of any pruned branches and any weeds pulled from around the butterfly bush. Shred them for mulch or throw them onto a compost pile. Break up any large, woody branches before composting.

Tips and Warnings

  • If you accidentally cut your butterfly bush back farther than you intend, not to worry. It is difficult to make mistakes with a butterfly bush as they are hardy and grow quickly with little need for human help. They will come back from a hard pruning none the worse for wear.

Things You'll Need

  • Pruning shears
  • Mulch
  • Stake (optional)
  • Garden gloves (optional)


  • Thrifty Fun: Good Night Sweet Perennial
  • Hume Seeds: Protecting Plants During Cold Weather
  • Backyard Gardener: Buddleia
Keywords: butterfly bush, Buddleia davidii, pruning bushes

About this Author

Tamara L. Waters is a freelance writer living in Southern Illinois. She has been writing professionally for print publications since 1992 and has written for websites and blogs since 2006. She is a category editor for Associated Content and writes a weekly column for a local newspaper.