Butterfly Bush Care & Maintenance

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.

Butterfly bushes attract hummingbirds as well as butterflies.

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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