Pruning the Butterfly Bush

Red Admiral Butterfly (Vanessa atalanta) on Buddleia (Buddleja davidii) by Steve Greaves

TheGardenLady received this question from Jocelyn.

I have just returned to the Vineyard after being away for 6 months. My butterfly bush has already sprouted leaves. Is it too late to do a deep pruning? If it’s not too late, how low can I go? Thanks. Looking forward to “spending” Saturday mornings with you on the radio…hope you had a great winter.

There are those who like to keep their Buddleia or butterfly bushes in their natural state and do not prune them. So if you missed the pruning season, you don’t have to worry. Usually Buddleia davidii, the more common buddleia, is pruned in late winter or early spring before new growth starts. When your forsythia and daffodils are blooming they tell you that it is a good time to prune your buddleia davidii. So I think you are not too late if this is the type of butterfly bush you have. Also, TheGardenLady does not know whether this season on the Vineyard has been unseasonably warm and your daffodils and forsythia have finished blooming.  See here.

Butterfly Bush – White Bouquet by donsutherland1

“Shrubs that bloom after spring usually do so from buds which are formed on shoots that grow the same spring. These shrubs should be pruned in later winter to promote vigorous shoot growth in spring.” The butterfly bush is a shrub that blooms on current season’s growth. TheGardenLady likes to prune her buddleia so that she can dead head the flowers easily when they die to encourage more blooming.

Butterfly Bush HDR 2 by Julianne Photography

The buddleia is a hardy plant so late pruning won’t kill the plant, but it might not have as many flowers. If you feel that you must prune but your plant has started sending out new growh, try not to prune the new growth which is where the blooms emerge but prune out some of the older stems.  See here.

PS You are confusing two garden ladies. This GardenLady does not talk on the radio.

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