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How to Care for Butterfly Plants

By M.H. Dyer ; Updated September 21, 2017

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.

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.

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.

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

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.

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.

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.

 

Things You Will Need

  • Organic mulch
  • Pruners

Warning

  • 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.

About the Author

 

M.H. Dyer began her writing career as a staff writer at a community newspaper and is now a full-time commercial writer. She writes about a variety of topics, with a focus on sustainable, pesticide- and herbicide-free gardening. She is an Oregon State University Master Gardener and Master Naturalist and holds a Master of Fine Arts in creative nonfiction writing.