The Varieties of the Dwarf Butterfly Bush

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The main attraction of butterfly bush (Buddleja davidii) is bringing butterflies and other beneficial insects to the garden, but the standard species has a sprawling, large, open, long-limbed shape. Dwarf varieties are shorter and denser but still have the prolific blooming and heady fragrance of larger shrubs, and offer a similar range of flower colors. Butterfly bush grows in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 5 through 9, and does best in full sun and most soil types except waterlogged soil.

A cabbage white butterfly on the cone of a butterfly bush.
A cabbage white butterfly on the cone of a butterfly bush. (Image: Leopardinatree/iStock/Getty Images)

Downsize

A dwarf butterfly bush grows up to 6 feet tall. Standard butterfly bush cultivars grow 6 to 10 feet tall and 4 to 10 feet wide, but dwarf varieties are usually half the size or smaller. "Buzz Violet Blue" grows 3 feet tall and wide when grown in the ground, but in containers its final dimensions are 2 feet tall and wide. Bearing mildly fragrant, violet-blue summer flowers, this compact shrub's willowlike leaves are medium green and have serrated margins. "Monum" Petite Plum is another dwarf cultivar, growing 3 to 5 feet tall and wide, and bearing reddish-purple, fragrant summer flowers 4 to 10 inches long. Petite Plum produces small leaves on arching, spreading stems.

A butterfly feeding on a dwarf butterfly bush.
A butterfly feeding on a dwarf butterfly bush. (Image: RogerBradley/iStock/Getty Images)

Behold the Butterfly Bush

Developed at North Carolina State University's JC Raulston Arboretum, the Lo and Behold butterfly bush series includes several dwarf varieties. "Blue Chip" grows about 2 feet tall and wide in well-branched mounds, and bears intense blue flowers. "Miss Ruby" is slightly larger, growing 2 to 3 feet tall and wide in one year, and bearing bright, reddish-pink blooms. Other members of the Lo and Behold series include "Ice Chip," which bears white flowers and grows 1 1/2 to 3 feet tall and 2 to 3 feet wide, and "Lilac Chip," which has soft, lavender-pink blooms and grows 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 feet tall and 2 to 2 1/2 feet wide.

A Miss Ruby butterfly bush with pinkish red blooms.
A Miss Ruby butterfly bush with pinkish red blooms. (Image: Masopasi/iStock/Getty Images)

Go English

Elizabeth Keep of East Maling, England has bred a range of dwarf butterfly bush varieties. Her butterfly bushes are dense, upright shrubs that produce large, mildly fragrant clusters of flowers 8 to 10 inches long throughout summer and sometimes to the first frost date. "Pyrkeep" Purple Emperor bears mauve-purple flowers, "Adokeep" Adonis Blue bears dark blue flowers and "Peakeep" Peacock blooms are lavender-pink. Adonis Blue and Peacock leaves are slightly glossy and have serrated margins. All three varieties grow 3 to 5 feet tall and wide.

A close-up of lavendar-pink Peakeep blooms.
A close-up of lavendar-pink Peakeep blooms. (Image: mmark86/iStock/Getty Images)

Variety is Key

Other dwarf varieties includ "White Ball," "Ellen's Blue" and "Summer Beauty." "White Ball" grows 3 feet tall and wide and bears prolific white blooms through summer. "Ellen's Blue" can grow 3 to 5 feet tall and wide but usually grows to about 4 feet. Bearing deep blue flowers that produce a fruity fragrance, this dwarf variety displays silvery leaves. Also with silvery foliage, "Summer Beauty" bears deep, rose-pink blooms and grows about 4 feet tall and wide.

A butterfly landing on the flower of a white ball variety.
A butterfly landing on the flower of a white ball variety. (Image: Darren Hendley/iStock/Getty Images)

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