How to Prune, Cut Back, and Care For Buddleia

How to Prune, Cut Back, and Care For Buddleia

Table of Contents

With amazing cone-shaped flowers that are big, boisterous and pack a pollinator-friendly punch, buddleia is a perfect plant for any big flower or butterfly lover. Discover how to grow buddleia and more importantly, maintain it, below.

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What is buddleia?

You might know it as butterfly-bush, summer lilac, Buddleja davidii, or even orange eye. Whatever name it is given, there is no mistaking buddleia’s large, conical flowers that aren’t dissimilar to corn on the cob, save for their luxurious colors of deep purple, lavender and pinks.

Buddleia, a woody, flowering plant native to central China and Japan, is a summer-blooming, ornamental plant that is popular in many gardens around the world due to its hardiness, low-maintenance needs, gorgeous cones of flowers, and pollination properties.

A hive of nectar for butterflies, hummingbirds, bees, and other precious insects, this butterfly-bush is the perfect plant for anyone seeking to bring more wildlife into their garden, while adding drama, color, and impressive height to a flower bed, border, or hedge.

Buddleia - Butterfly Bush

Where should buddleia be planted?

With enormous spread, buddleia is perfect if you are looking for bushes to plant at the front of your house to create shade and privacy. Reaching 3 meters in height for some varieties, this self-seeding plant can be the perfect camouflage for garbage cans, an ideal complement for unsightly garden necessities, or a solid backdrop to border a flower bed.

Just remember that buddleia plants are wonderful pollinators and attract all manner of insects, including bees, so be wary where you plant them in case of stinging.

How to care for buddleia

All a buddleia needs to flourish is well-draining soil and lots of direct sunlight so be sure to choose a spot in your garden that can give this mighty shrub these two essential requirements. To increase soil drainage, mix grit, bark, or sand through your soil to prevent it from getting waterlogged.

Once your buddleia is in full sun, the most important thing to keep this plant healthy and happy is knowing when and how to prune it. Maintenance and a good cutting back are the two most crucial elements of buddleia care and so this article is dedicated to walking you through when, how, and where to prune and cut back your butterfly bush for sumptuous blooms and sensational character in your garden.

Related Post:How to Prune, Trim, and Care for Roses

When to cut back buddleia

The ideal time to begin pruning buddleia is in early to late spring, depending on your USDA zone and buddleia variety.

There are many benefits to this cutting back process. Firstly, it stimulates growth: buddleias are ambitious growers and bounce back enthusiastically after a good pruning.

Pruning Buddleia - Butterfly Bush

Cutting back in spring also produces more flowers for butterflies and also helps to keep buddleia flowers growing closer to eye level, the better for you to enjoy their spray of color in the garden.

Buddleia are also self-seeders and have a tendency to spread. In fact, they are considered invasive plants and are even banned in some parts of the US (so be sure to check with your local Department of Agriculture to see if it is safe to grow buddleia in your area). A good cutting back will help to keep this plant in check and keep it growing in the right direction.

Keep reading to discover how to properly prune your buddleia to really get the most from this fascinating plant.

When to prune buddleia

While pruning can be considered cutting back (which as we now know should be done in early spring), you can also give your buddleia plants a light pruning in the fall to remove spent blooms and keep your buddleia looking neat and tidy, while conserving its energy for regrowth. Achieve this by cutting back any tips with dead flowers as these will be beginning to develop seeds.

Another benefit of a fall-time pruning is that it will decrease the spread of buddleia by removing seeds that could invade the rest of your garden and beyond!

How to prune buddleia

The good news when pruning buddleia in springtime is that you can generally be as ruthless as you please! Some people even prefer to cut the entire shrub back to ground as its hardiness will enable it to rise – victorious and splendorous with conical flowers – again.

Pink Buddleia - Butterfly Bush

In general, though, the aim when pruning this bush is to keep five or six primary branches that will act as the plant’s main foundation. To create this, use a secateurs, pruning saw, or other implement of your choice to cut back top growth to roughly half its height. Once this is done, cut even further into this, pruning about half of the growth right back to the ground.

When doing this, you want to try and make your cuts directly above a growing shoot or bud (although again, you don’t need to worry about being too precious).

Remove any other entwined twigs or crossed branches to give the plant better room to breathe and then complete the task by adding a top layer of mulch around your buddleia to insulate against water loss and prevent weeds.

And that’s it! As you have read, buddleia is the ultimate low-maintenance flowering shrub that brings color, dynamism, and drama to every garden. Get planting yours now!


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