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How to Transplant a Butterfly Bush

shoveling image by Pix by Marti from

Butterfly bush (Buddleja davidii) can grow up to 15 feet tall but is usually seen at 6 to 8 feet tall because of pruning. New growth in the form of drooping cane produces pink, white, deep purple or lavender spikes of blooms from mid-summer into fall.

The leaves of the butterfly bush are long and slender. The blooms, which can be up to 10 inches long, attract butterflies, bees and hummingbirds. The best time to transplant butterfly bush is in the spring before new growth appears.

Choose a sunny, well-drained location to plant butterfly bush.

Make a trench around the bush to be transplanted. The trench should be at the drip line, an imaginary circle beneath the outermost branches. Thrust the shovel straight down with the front of the shovel facing you, and then pull the shovel tip toward you. Measure the width of the trench.

Dig the destination hole twice as wide as the trench and about 12 inches deep. The extra width loosens soil for better root penetration. Dig the sides straight down. Return to the bush to be transplanted, to finish digging it out.

Push the spade under the butterfly bush to be moved. A long-blade transplant shovel can be used instead of the spade. The spade should be angled slightly down toward the center of the bush. Continue pushing the spade under the bush all the way around the trench, getting as much of the root system as you can.

Tip the butterfly bush to one side and work a piece of wrap underneath the roots. The wrap can be burlap, tarp, folded sheet or shower curtain. Tip the bush the opposite direction to get the rootball completely on the wrap. Tie the wrap around the base of the bush if desired.

Measure the height of the rootball. The handle of the shovel can be used to gauge the height. Adjust the depth of the receiving hole so the top of the rootball will be above ground level 1 to 2 inches.

Drag the bush into the newly dug hole (or move the bush in a garden cart or wheelbarrow).

Turn the butterfly bush so the most favorable side is displaying to the public (street, sidewalk). Work the wrap out from beneath the bush by tipping the bush to the side.

Backfill the hole and water thoroughly.

Prune to remove any damaged branches.

Apply 2 to 3 inches of mulch, ike compost or wood chips, around the base of the bush. Keep the mulch a few inches away from the base of the butterfly bush.

Water every day for the first week (if it doesn’t rain) and then water every seven to 10 days if there is no rainfall.

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