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How to Prune Dead Flowers From a Butterfly Bush

A butterfly bush (Buddleia davidii) is a beautiful and fragrant addition to any garden, yard or landscape. While it is low maintenance and easy to grow and take care of, it does benefit from the occasional pruning of dead flowers in order to keep this woody ornamental bush looking gorgeous. Pruning away the dead flowers will also promote new growth on this perennial bush and result in plenty of colorful blooms to add zing to your yard and attract bees, butterflies, a variety of beneficial insects and hummingbirds to your yard.

Prune the dead flower heads at the top of the butterfly bush. Starting at the top--preferably one side then the other side--will help keep the desired shape of the butterfly bush. Start at the top of the bush on one side and work down, cutting off spent blooms then progress to the next side.

Look for dead blooms. Cut all dead blooms or flower heads that can be seen on the butterfly bush. Cut dead flower heads off at an angle just behind the cluster of flowers on the flower head.

Cut the top half out of partially decayed flower heads. Some flower heads will still have fresh flowers at the lower part of the flower head. Cut off the top half of the spike to enjoy the last little bit of beauty from the flowers that are still viable.

Prune dead flower heads after most of the individual flowers have decayed. Butterfly bushes usually start blooming after June and will usually continue to flower through early fall. Regular pruning of dead flowers should be done every two weeks throughout the growing season.

Dispose of all dead flower heads you have pruned. Don’t leave the dead flower heads around the plant as decay can attract pests and disease. Add all dead flower heads to your compost pile or brush pile.


Butterfly bushes don’t mind a hard pruning throughout the blooming period. The butterfly bush is a hardy and very resilient plant that will exhibit vigorous growth year after year while provide plenty of aromatic and colorful blooms.


Be careful not to cut off new forming flower heads. They will resemble small, greenish-silver spikes and are usually found close to the dead flower heads.

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