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How to Grow a Butterfly Bush From Seed

By Leah Deitz ; Updated September 21, 2017
Butterfly bush plants attract beneficial bugs and provide color and scent.
butterfly image by palms from Fotolia.com

Butterfly bush (Buddleja davidii) is a perennial garden plant well known for its brightly colored blooms, rich fragrance and beneficial bug-attracting properties. This bush is native to China and was first introduced to Europe in the 1700s. Since then this small shrub has flourished across the globe where it is used to attract butterflies as well as add a splash of color across the landscape. Starting butterfly bush plants from seed requires a more time than typical bedding plants but will produce viable plants that once established should grow for many years.

Ready, Set, Sow

Germinate butterfly bush seeds by chilling the seeds for approximately four weeks prior to planting. This helps the seeds germinate by mimicking the seeds' natural dormancy period. To do this, place an envelope of seeds in a freezer bag. Press the bag to remove all extra air and place it in the freezer for four weeks.

Fill peat pots with potting soil. Peat pots are effective for starting seeds because they break down naturally in the soil and can be planted in the garden when seedlings are ready for transplant.

Place three seeds in each pot. Use your finger and push the seeds into the dirt.

Water each peat pot. It is important that the dirt remain moist without any standing water.

Germinate in a sunny window for 20 to 30 days. Butterfly bush seeds need full sun and 70 degree Fahrenheit temperatures to germinate.

Transplant the seedlings when at least two sets of true leaves sprout. Plant in full sun and moist, well-drained soil.


Things You Will Need

  • Butterfly bush seeds
  • Freezer bag
  • Peat Pots
  • Potting Soil
  • Water


  • Since butterfly bush plants prefer full sun and well-drained soil, do not transplant the seedlings if there is still a threat of frost or cold weather.