Not Your Mama’s Butterfly Bush

July 26, 2015 | By | Comments (6)
Butterfly bush

‘Pink Delight’ butterfly bush. Photo: Steve Bender

Butterfly bush has been a Grumpy favorite for many years, because it blooms for months, offers many different colors, attracts butterflies and hummingbirds, and sings “My Way” when I’ve had four or more beers. Lately, though, plant breeders have been making a good plant even better in three important respects.

First, butterfly bushes are getting smaller. Older types could grow up to 12 feet tall. This is fine if you live at Versailles, but it’s hard to fit into most residential gardens unless you keep hacking it back into an ugly meatball. However, more recent introductions cut that size way down. ‘Pink Delight’, shown above, is an outstanding clear pink selection that grows 6 to 8 feet tall. Remove spent blooms to keep new ones coming.

Want something a little smaller? Try this eye-popper.

Butterfly bush

Buckeye butterfly on ‘Miss Molly.’ Photo:

Meet ‘Miss Molly’ from Proven Winners. This compact beauty grows 4 to 5 feet tall with vibrant, sangria-red flowers.

And if that’s still too big, try this one.

butterfly bush

Lo & Behold ‘Purple Haze.’ Photo:

Also from Proven Winners, ‘Purple Haze’ grows only 2 to 3 feet tall and wide. This means butterfly bush doesn’t have to be a back-of-the-border plant any more. You can mix it with annuals, perennials, and other small shrubs just fine. Or you can plant it in a container.

‘Purple Haze’ is one of the low-growing Lo & Behold Series that includes pink, blue, and lilac versions. They don’t set seed, so they never stop blooming and don’t need deadheading, a trait shared by ‘Miss Molly.’ No deadheading is the second big improvement.

The third big improvement relates to the second. The old butterfly bushes produced lots of seed and their seedlings became invasive in many areas. I remember traveling by train in England and seeing hundreds of butterfly bushes growing in the gravel by the side of the tracks. Well, many of these new butterfly bushes I’m telling you about are sterile. Sterile flowers mean no seedlings.

That’s the case with Ball Horticulture’s Flutterby butterfly bushes. The Flutterby Grande Series grows 4 to 6 feet tall and wide. Below is Flutterby Grande ‘Peach Cobbler.’ I’m a sucker for peach and apricot-colored flowers.

Butterfly bush

Flutterby Grande ‘Peach Cobbler.’ Photo:

Plants in the Flutterby Petite Series grow 24-30 inches tall and wide. Below is Flutterby Petite ‘Tutti Frutti Pink.’

Butterfly bush

Flutterby Petite ‘Tutti Fruitti Pink.’ Photo:

How To Grow
Plant butterfly bush in a sunny spot with well-drained soil. Moisture is appreciated, but it tolerates drought. Flowering occurs on new growth, so except for the low-growing types, prune back by two-thirds in late winter. As mentioned before, older types need spent flowers removed to stay blooming. The new seedless types don’t. Don’t worry about deer. Deer don’t eat them.

Other Great Articles For You, Dear Reader
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Chaste Tree Is Pure Delight

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  1. Terri Holmes

    Can I grow Butterfly in zone 8? I live in Fort Worth Texas.

    July 28, 2015 at 12:12 pm
  2. Kathleen

    Do you know what it is about the UK climate that makes butterfly bushes invasive over there? I visited last year & butterfly bushes are growing out of control .You can see them growing out of building cracks, along the railroad tracks, stone walls,on roofs, anyplace they can gain a foothold.
    It’s beautiful but weird.
    They have the same trouble with rhododendrons, too.

    July 27, 2015 at 11:50 am
  3. donnalee

    I am in zone 4…I have had butterfly bushes sometimes for two years, I am hoping for one hardy to our zone.

    July 26, 2015 at 10:39 pm
  4. Bob Gagne

    Carolyn Choi; The butterfly is called buckeye, the name of the variety is Miss Molly

    July 26, 2015 at 9:14 pm
  5. jennifer

    This, was great info for my butterfly, garden to be..ty!!

    July 26, 2015 at 6:11 pm
  6. Carolyn Choi

    Wow that ‘Buckieye ‘ is a gorgeous color. Gotta get me one.

    July 26, 2015 at 10:55 am

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