Butterfly expert, Rick Mikula, describes the butterfly bush as a literal magnet to nectar seekers like butterflies, bees, and some birds, depending on the color of blooms. The butterfly bush is also known as a summer lilac. Over 100 varieties of the butterfly bush exist in the Buddleia genus. The branches are narrow with blooming clusters of blossoms that can extend up to 2 feet in length. Many counties, including King County, Washington, consider the butterfly bush invasive as each blooming cluster can spread up to 40,000 seeds. Many look-alike plants are available for gardeners to consider.
Blue Mountain Lilac
The Blue Mountain Lilac grows up to 8 feet high and 6 feet wide. Native Again Landscape reports it acts as semi-deciduous in low elevations and entirely deciduous in high elevations. In late spring it produces aromatic flower clusters similar to the butterfly bush. It is drought resistant once it is established but does require appropriate drainage. It is nicknamed Deerbrush as deer are known to sneak a meal from it.
FloridaData cautions gardeners to plant a Chaste Tree in an area where bees won't be a nuisance, as the blooms from this deciduous tree attract large groups of honeybees and the occasional hummingbird. Purple flower clusters blooming on this 10- to 20-foot tree allow it to be mistaken for the butterfly bush. The leaves, however, when not covered in blooms, can be mistaken for marijuana. This tree requires a moist soil with good drainage.
DavesGarden.com cites the Chokecherry tree to be a widespread tree throughout the northern regions of North America. The 8- to15-foot tree not only produces clusters of flowers, similar to the butterfly bush, among its serrated leaves but also produces fruit. The fruit does attract a host of animals ranging from black bears to deer mice. The flowers bloom in late spring. While the Chokecherry Tree thrives near rivers and moist soil it is very tolerant of drought as well.
Ranging from as little as 18 inches to a height of 40 ft, the crape myrtle is a deciduous tree that FloridaData claims holds the record for holding its bloom the longest. For 2 to 4 months, the tree will hold clusters of flowers with small crepe-like flowers. The tree is mildew and drought resistant but does have a tendency to attract aphids, which gardeners should be aware of before planting. It requires moist soil with decent drainage and reseeds very easily.
- Photo Credit butterfly on butterfly bush image by Scott Slattery from Fotolia.com
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