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Butterfly Bush-May’s Plant of the Month

butterfly bush

If you want more butterflies in your garden, this plant is a must have. It says so in the name! Butterfly Bush is a versatile shrub that comes in a rainbow of colors. Come summertime, this shrub is covered in flowers that bees and butterflies can't get enough of!

Growth Habit & Features

Butterfly Bush has lots of different varieties, growing to different sizes in the landscape. Most of them will grow to an average of 4-6' tall and wide. There are also many new cultivars that stay under 3'. Plant it in full sun with well-drained soil. They look great in perennial beds, as a specimen or in mixed shrub borders.

This deciduous shrub is fast growing with long arching branches of gray-green leaves that form an open loose growth habit in larger growers. Smaller varieties are a little more compact. Dense cone-shaped clusters of flowers appear spring through fall. And lots of 'em.

Butterfly Bush come in just about any color-white, pink, rose and many shades of blue/purple. As the name implies, it does attract bees and butterflies like crazy! Plus, it is deer resistant as well as heat and drought tolerant once established.

butterfly bush

The Truth About Butterfly Bush

Now, let's talk a bit about this plant's dark side. Dun dun DUNNN!!!! In some parts of the north east and north western U.S., Butterfly Bush is considered an invasive plant. This is because it produces sooo many flowers that turn into sooo many seed pods, in just the right environment, that they end up sprouting all over in those areas.

Plus, these plants are not host plants to any type of north American caterpillar. So, while the butterflies really enjoy the nectar of the flowers, they can't use it to lay their eggs.

The Good News

Well, now what? The good news is that Butterfly Bush is not considered invasive here in san Antonio as of yet. If you do notice an overabundance of seedlings, diligently deadheading will help. You may want to do that with any Butterfly Bush though. It will tidy it up and increase the new blooms! There's more good news- many of the newer cultivars available today are sterile, thus no seedlings running amok.

But, what about being a host butterfly plant? To feed hungry caterpillars, make sure to include lots of host plants like Passion Vine, Flame Acanthus, Texas Mountain Laurel, native Milkweed, citrus and Rudbeckia. Plus, they'll look awesome next to your Butterfly Bush!

It's almost time for these beauties to start blooming! The Garden Center has several varieties of Butterfly Bush right now including:

  • Buzz Ivory- sterile, white blooms
  • Nanho Blue or Purple- sterile, dwarf variety, blue or purple flowers
  • Miss Molly- sterile, ruby pink blooms
  • Royal Red- not sterile, but should not be an issue in San Antonio, (Northwest Coastal US, and Eastern coastal areas are reporting problems with invasiveness) purplish red blooms