Guest Author - Connie Krochmal
If handsome is as handsome does, the butterfly bush deserves a place in late summer bouquets. True to its name, this acts like a magnet for butterflies. But they won’t mind if you cut a few stems from time to time.
These cut flower stems are generally used as a form flower in floral design. In addition, a handful of stems look great on their own as a quick and easy bouquet. The vase life does vary from one kind to another. However, most will last for a week or so.
Regarding color, you can have your choice of the different kinds of butterfly bush. In addition to the ordinary pale bluish-purple, there are also other shades, including white and even a yellow as well.
The individual blossoms are very tiny. But, they open in large as life spikes from the leaf axils and terminally at the end of the branches. Look very closely at the individual flowers, and you will see an extremely tiny yellow eye.
These blossoms give off a deliciously fragrant, honey-like aroma. The lovely silvery foliage adds to the beauty of the cut stems. Both the twigs are leaves are slightly downy.
Depending on the species or variety, butterfly bush comes in all sizes. Typically, the ones I’ve seen are about five to six feet in height. Dwarf ones are also available with stems that will still be long enough to use as cut flowers.
When it comes to growing butterfly bush for cut flowers, this one takes very little attention. It thrives in all kinds of soil from sand to clay. Full sun and partial shade are just fine. Mine has been growing in the front yard for around 15 years. It requires almost no care. The plants seem pretty tolerant of dry conditions. Mine survived a prolonged drought lasting several years.
The only thing I really do to the plant is to cut it to the ground in late winter every couple years. Remember the flowers open on new wood. In other words, as the stems get thick and woody the plant energy goes to the woody tissue instead of to the flowers.
Depending on the species, the butterfly bushes are quite cosmopolitan. Some are native to tropical Asia from China and India and elsewhere, while others are native to South Africa and even South America and Mexico. If you plan on buying a plant, choose one that is hardy for your area.
Butterfly bush will self sow if you give it a chance. Let the seeds fall from the plant. Then, dig the seedlings once they are large enough to transplant.
These plants can also be grown from cuttings. This method is used for named cultivars that don’t come true from seed.
Sometimes called summer lilac, this plant is in the genus Buddleia. This Latin name is in honor of Reverend Adam Bubble (1660-1715), who was a minister and plant lover. He lived in the Essex village of North Fambridge in England.