Plantidote of the Day 2011-08-31
Butterfly bush or summer lilac
Butterfly bush is a big (4 to 10 feet tall), rangy plant that can survive just about anywhere in Zones 5 through 10 with proper care. Some sun and an average amount of water keeps it happy and the type of soil is not as important as good drainage. In addition to attracting butterflies, buddleias are irresistible to bees and hummingbirds. With just this one plant, you'll have a non-stop pollination party going for weeks!
To get lots of "party favors" -- the big, fragrant cones of blooms -- you need to do some serious pruning, though, because flowers only grow on new wood. Sometime in the fall, after the plants have flowered, cut the branches way back, so that there are only a few inches of stems showing above ground. (In colder climates, you can skip this step. Buddleia roots can survive freezing temperatures while everything above ground freezes off and regrows in spring. At least, that's what the various gardening resources claim.)
If white is too boring, there are beautiful colors available. The plants are considered invasive in areas like the Pacific Northwest, but they can be kept in check by deadheading (removing old flowers) before their seeds spread.
NOTE: Kathryn, who usually posts Wednesday Plantidotes, will return as soon as the hurricane damage in her area allows. Good luck, Kath!
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