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Butterfly Bush
Deciduous, Evergreen, Shrubs, Semi-evergreen

Upright, fountain-shaped shrubs beloved for summer flowers. Many selections are available, all notable for flower color, fragrance, or both. Grow in well-drained soil. Blossoms attract butterflies.

Buddleja davidii ‘Ellen’s Blue’ (photo courtesy of Annie’s Annuals & Perennials)
Buddleja davidii ‘Ellen’s Blue’ (photo courtesy of Annie’s Annuals & Perennials)

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Buddleja davidii

Semievergreen to deciduous. Native to China, Japan. Fast growth each spring and summer to 3, 4, or even 10 ft. tall and as wide. Tapering leaves are 4–12 in. long, dark green above, white and felted beneath. In midsummer, branch ends are adorned with small, fragrant flowers (lilac with orange eye) in dense, arching, spikelike, slender clusters 6–12 in. long or more.

Needs good drainage and enough water to maintain growth. Cut back heavily before spring growth begins. May die to the ground in freezing weather but will regrow from roots like a perennial and bloom the same year. Invasive in disturbed soils in parts of Oregon and Washington.

Buddleja davidii nanhoensis

Similar to B. davidii, but smaller in all its parts. Fast growth to just 3–5 ft. tall and wide, with dark green, pointed leaves. Dense flower clusters in white, deep blue, or reddish purple. Cut back hard before new growth begins in spring.

Buddleja x weyeriana ‘Sungold’ (photo courtesy of Denver Botanic Gardens)
Buddleja x weyeriana ‘Sungold’ (photo courtesy of Denver Botanic Gardens)

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Buddleja x weyeriana

This hybrid between B. davidii and B. globosa resembles the latter parent, growing to 6–10 ft. tall and wide, but is deciduous (except in mildest-winter climates) and is hardier, with more elongated orange-yellow flower clusters in late spring or early summer. ‘Bicolor’ flowers are mauve-pink with peach-pink centers; ‘Sungold’ blooms are orange; ‘Honeycomb’, buttery yellow. Prune as for B. alternifolia.

Buddleja ‘Lochinch’

Hybrid between Buddleja davidii and another Asian species. Deciduous (but retains its leaves in mildest-winter climates). Grows to 5–8 ft. or more, with equal spread. Has gray foliage and light lavender-blue flowers over a long season in late summer and fall.

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