Butterfly Bush Care & Maintenance

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Butterfly bushes attract hummingbirds as well as butterflies.

The butterfly bush (Buddleia davidii), a shrub native to China and Japan, produces clusters of colorful flowers that attract butterflies. Hardy in USDA zones 5 through 10, the butterfly bush thrives in most temperate climates with only minimal care and maintenance.


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Site and Soil

Butterfly bushes prefer well-drained, average soil. Once established, the shrubs perform best in dry conditions; wet soil may kill the roots. Butterfly bushes thrive in full sun, although they can tolerate some partial shade.


Applying 1 inch of water about once a week provides a newly planted butterfly bush with adequate moisture. After the first two months of growth, the shrub only requires supplemental watering in summer when rainfall is less than 1 inch a week. It needs no additional water during spring, fall or winter.


Feeding and Mulching

A butterfly bush planted in average garden soil does not typically require fertilization. In poor soil, however, the shrub benefits from a yearly feeding in spring with an all-purpose fertilizer. A 2- to 4-inch layer of organic mulch helps protect the bush from cold temperatures and increases the soil's moisture retention.


A butterfly bush produces flowers on new wood, which means more blooms appear if the shrub receives a severe pruning to encourage new growth. Pruning back the bush to within 3 to 4 inches of the ground in early spring yields the best results.


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