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Butterfly Bush Characteristics

By April Sanders ; Updated September 21, 2017
Butterflies love the fragrant flowers of the butterfly bush.

The butterfly bush (Buddleia davidii or Buddleja davidii) is a perennial shrub. The plant, which is also called the summer lilac, is popular with gardeners, according to Carol Savonen, a master gardener for Oregon State University. The butterfly bush is easily recognizable and quite stunning when in bloom. In addition, it only requires basic care, making it a common choice for home gardeners and landscapers.

Fast and Hardy Growth

One of the most recognizable characteristics of the butterfly shrub is its fast and hardy growth. The shrub can reach a height of 10-12 feet in just one growing season. In addition, the butterfly bush is very hardy and can spread quite rapidly, which means it can become invasive. In fact, the plant is classified as a noxious weed by the state of Oregon.

Large Clusters of Flowers

The butterfly bush features large masses of tiny blooms, which are pyramidal-shaped and located at the ends of the long branches. These clusters of small flowers can be as long as 20 inches. Purple is the most common color, but these bushes also come with pink, white, blue and even yellow flowers. The butterfly bush blooms in the summer, and the flowers have a pleasing, spicy scent.

Long, Spindly Branches

The butterfly bush is not compact or bushy like most shrubs. The branches, which sprout from the ground, are long and thin, often drooping from the weight of the flowers. The leaves are broad and green and line the branches from the ground to the tip.

Warm Growing Conditions

All varieties of the butterfly bush enjoy full sun. Some will also thrive in partial shade, but even those varieties need at least six hours of sunlight per day in order to properly bloom. Butterfly bushes also like moist but well-draining soil.

Attractive to Butterflies

One of the most distinguishing characteristics of the butterfly bush is the fact that butterflies love this plant, but they are not the only creatures attracted to the plant's showy display of flowers. Hummingbirds, bees and other nectar-feeding insects all enjoy this plant as well.