Butterfly bush

Attracting butterflies and other pollinators is a hot gardening topic right now and has been for a while. There are a lot of plants that attract them. You can find lists of plants coming from various points of view on line.

Butterfly bushes are one of them, but they also get bad press in some areas for being potentially invasive and not being native. I’ve had full size and dwarf bushes, and none of them have grown beyond their established area. I can’t, however, account for every seed that could have been disbursed by a bird or two.

If you want to read further about how they provide too much nectar and deter butterflies from seeking out only native plants, here is a good post from the University of Maryland. I have many ‘native’ plants in my garden including butterfly weed. In my zone, butterfly weed only grows to about 12″ high each year and never reaches a point that makes it large enough to attract more than one or two butterflies.

I saw a post from the Oregon State Ecology Lab about butterfly bush performance, it captivated my interest, and I wanted to try the #1 plant they recommended, Miss Violet.

I don’t know how plant prices are in your area, but around here, they have increased dramatically since the pandemic started and more people took up gardening. In my research, I found a very cost effective plant on line from Home Depot. I’ve never ordered a plant online from Home Depot so thought why not.

The cost was $16 for a quart sized Proven Winner plant, it was well packaged, and it took only four days to arrive. I trimmed off some broken pieces, watered, and set it in the garage window to get plenty of light until I can transition it to outside.

Of course, I’m probably not the typical gardener in that I’m always checking to see if I can divide a plant and make two. I also don’t get involved in the current gardening drama associated around the ‘native’ versus ‘non native’ plants. Life involves enough drama, I don’t go looking for it in my garden. 🙂

Have a good week as we get April going. We have rain in the forecast, which is okay, because we all know what comes next – May flowers.

About Judy@NewEnglandGardenAndThread

Master Gardener who enjoys gardening, quilting, photography, and traveling.
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70 Responses to Butterfly bush

  1. Like you, I am what you might call “relaxed” about native vs. nonnative. In my finicky yard, I am grateful for any flower or bush that thrives and is beautiful. 😉 I have never ordered any plants from Home Depot or any other big box store, but Miss Violet looks very good—healthy and not at all stressed. Price is good, too. Long may Miss Violet thrive.

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  2. It is always lovely to see the whole cycle Judy, the beautiful plants and the beneficials they attract. The bees have been particularly stressed, and they feed us all!

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    • Yes, it is a cycle that sure has a lot of things trying to interrupt it. Even after all the words written on the subject of bees and other pollinators, I’m not sure that a lot of people realize ‘no pollinators, no food.’ We’ll hope we don’t ever go there.

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  3. Murphy’s Law says:

    Miss Violet looks like a good choice. She looks healthy and ready to perform for you! I tried a butterfly bush once. It grew very tall, had next to no foliage, and attracted zero butterflies! Total dud!

    I’ve never worried about “native or not native”. If a plant tickles my fancy, and I can afford it, that seals the deal. I am sorry that I didn’t research Flowering Quince before I planted them. Talk about invasive! Sheeesh. They took root and spread out in a NY minute. They are a thorn in my side. Literally! Lol!

    Enjoy watching your garden grow into lush and colorful blooms.
    Ginger

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    • I was watching a local short gardening clip they include in the morning news on Saturdays. They were talking about the information on the cards attached to most plants. The guy said ‘oh, we should read those?’ I had a hearty laugh at the comment and at myself for all the ones I haven’t read thoroughly and lived to deal with the plant.

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  4. Judy, I love butterfly bush! I would like to plant some native plants but they are very hard to find here. I’ve been trying to rid my garden of invasive Mexican Petunia for years!

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  5. Joanne Sisco says:

    I look forward to seeing how Miss Violet thrives in your garden … and more importantly, whether your butterfly population increases accordingly 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • You and me both. So GOOD to see your smiling face. I hope you and your crew of good looking guys are gearing up for spring hiking and kayaking. I miss your posts, but I understand. Thanks for commenting because it made me smile.

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      • Joanne Sisco says:

        It’s nice to know I’m always welcomed back 🙂 I’ve had a great winter (I know, I can’t believe I said that either!) of hiking and snowshoeing. We had a lot of snow which I normally hate, but I can’t say I’ve enjoyed a winter more than this one. Who says you can’t teach an old dog new tricks? 😉

        It’s still a little too chilly for paddling, but the racks go on the car in a couple of weeks, and hopefully the boats will be in the water shortly after. I can hardly wait 🙂

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  6. Oddment says:

    It looks healthy! May there be many butterflies! It is such a treat for a gardener when butterflies visit — it’s sort of like Mother Nature’s seal of approval.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. As a part of a large planting this year, the butterfly bush Miss Mollie will be planted. It has the hot pink flowers I love and doesn’t get too big. I had a beautiful blue one that grew to about 8′ but a storm broke it up. I had lythrum at my old house (the mere word makes horticulturists nuts). It wasn’t invasive there but maybe in a wetter area it would be. Sometimes it’s hard to track what’s considered good and what’s out of favor. So many of our flowers aren’t native but have been here for centuries.

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  8. Dan Antion says:

    I have to agree with “life has enough drama” – we don’t need to bring it into gardening. We plant what we like to see in our yard. I hope your plants do well, and I hope you have a wonderful week. I also hope you get things in the ground before your garage fills up 😉

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  9. You made me smile. I belong to a master gardeners group and some days it’s depressing reading about all the things I’ve planted in my garden that are now labelled “invasive non-native”. BTW: there is a pretty orangey wildflower called a butterfly weed that I once dug up by the roadside. I will not check if that is a non-native invasive too!

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    • Yes, my MG group is constantly talking about natives and only natives. I like plants especially those people have given me, and if I like them and they’re not bothering anyone or anything, I keep them. That orange butterfly weed is native! I have one, and the butterflies do like it, but with my climate it stays really small.

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  10. Ha! Yes, this: “Life involves enough drama, I don’t go looking for it in my garden.”
    I look forward to seeing future pics and posts about your thriving butterfly bush (or pair of them). Happy Monday!

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  11. Nancy says:

    Good Morning Judy… how nice to know that plants are being delivered nicely from Home Depot. It looks really good.

    I get lots of butterflies here in AZ… they love Lantanas. We are contemplating a Butterfly Bush in Pennsylvania but we have more shade then sun in that yard.
    And I agree… Life has enough Drama… keep it out of my garden!
    Happy Monday my friend!

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  12. Joyce says:

    Awww….”Miss Violet”….I love her name! I’m sure she’s glad she landed with you! You’ll make her thrive and she’ll open her branches to butterflies galore! Looking forward to hearing about it all.
    Snowing here today *&&#*)’….that’s all I’ll type since this is such a proper, polite site!

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    • Snow? Oh my goodness, I am so sorry. We have more than enough rain, but at least it’s not as cold and doesn’t have to be moved. It’s going to be fun seeing how she does, and if I see more than the usual number of butterflies. Hope all is well with you and your family. Next month, it will be time to do those window boxes!

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  13. tonytomeo says:

    As much as I dislike modern cultivars, these particular cultivars have an advantage of sterility, or at least being less prolific with seed than the straight species or simpler cultivars, which can get aggressive with seeding.

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    • Sometimes ‘modern’ is good especially when we’re talking about one little bush.

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      • tonytomeo says:

        Yes; a neighbor installed a simpler old cultivar, which I would prefer, but that one little bush became several in the neighborhood. There is at least one at work, but we remove its seedlings like weeds. Nowadays, we would be more inclined to add the modern sorts. I do not believe that butterfly bush would become aggressively invasive, but the modern cultivars are less risky nonetheless.

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  14. I love your line: “Life involves enough drama, I don’t go looking for it in my garden.” I think that’s a quote worth framing 🙂 Since we have mostly succulents in our yard, I planted a few Lantanas for the butterflies… they seem to like them.

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  15. Your plant does look very healthy indeed. I hope it attracts lots of beautiful butterflies. 🦋

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  16. Eliza Waters says:

    Hope she attracts lots of butterflies for you!

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Miss Violet looks in good shape and, if the photo on the label is anything to go by, she’ll look great in flower. Good luck!

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  18. Eilene Lyon says:

    The drama in my garden only involves lizards and insects.😆 They shipped you a nice looking plant. I hope it thrives. Our butterfly bush has become a laggard, but still produces some lovely dark purple blossoms each year. I only worry about non-natives or invasive when they try to take over. Then, of course, it’s usually too late!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Two of the nicest butterfly bushes I’ve had were dwarfs which I gave to a friend who really, really wanted them. The only problem was the friend moved, and I sure wish I’d gotten them back from her. 🙂 I have a good sized one that I do have to trim each year because it gets gangly and branches break. I’m with you on being late to the show sometimes on how plants behave.

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  19. I have two butterfly bushes. They grow strong and beautiful. I love watching all of the butterflies and hummingbirds attracted to their blooms.

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  20. That’s one of the flowering plants I am thinking about putting in my pots. I have to go to the garden center and see what’s available for our area next week.

    I hope your new plant does well for you!

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  21. germac4 says:

    Don’t get me started on the drama of native and non-natives, it is a constant discussion in Canberra, and some people are horrified at the thought of non-natives. we have a bit of everything in our garden. However, I’m glad you mentioned butterflies because we definitely don’t have as many butterflies in the garden as I would like, so many I should be on the lookout for butterfly attracting plants. We have really encouraged bees through plantings, one tree in particular The Chinese Tallow, but butterflies…we have mainly white butterflies that eat all the lettuce leaves etc.

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    • Some of our MGs can get rather rabid when they talk about ‘natives.’ I understand the issues surrounding natives versus non-natives, but I think gardening is a pursuit that people should be allowed to do as they see fit. Now, if we were talking spraying pesticides, that’s a totally different topic, and I can jump on that bandwagon quickly. 🙂

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  22. I’m happy to read your plant made it in good shape. We had a butterfly bush in Illinois which I would cut off each fall and would grow to enormous heights each year. I miss it!

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  23. Pingback: Butterfly bush — NewEnglandGardenAndThread | Vermont Folk Troth

  24. A little bird told me that a neighbor of yours a half mile down the road is complaining about a butterfly bush which suddenly sprung in her backyard, allegedly from one of your dwarf bushes. Just sayin’ 😉 – Marty

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  25. Lavinia Ross says:

    I am in Oregon, and there was a butterfly bush on the place when we bought it. I found they root readily from cuttings. If you can get some cuttings from a friend, you will have some nice shrubs in short order. They grow fast.

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  26. Ally Bean says:

    I’m a gardener simpleton, if it grows then I immediately consider if native. I mean, it’s here doing its thing, isn’t it? BUT I know all about the ‘native’ versus ‘non native’ plants controversies– and as long as what you plant isn’t invasive… then where’s the harm?

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m with you! I like to garden and enjoy different plants and flowers so I’m going to buy what I like as long as they don’t spread anywhere. I have all kinds of truly invasive things on the edges of the property in the woods that I could work on for the rest of my life and not clear out. I get a few each year but that battle will continue long after I’m gone. 🙂

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  27. Tina Schell says:

    Ah yes, the “native” plant police – they are also here on our little island. Although I’m not a gardener, I like their advice, which is to use native plants throughout your yard to provide shelter and shade for the local critters, and to use non-native plants sparingly to augment the natives. We’ve had quite a time controlling larger, more aggressive invasives like kudzu and bamboo, both of which can take over left to their own devices. No one really worries much about the use of non-native flowers in our gardens, but then again, there aren’t really many gardeners here so it’s not a big issue. Our Nature Conservancy actually encourages the planting of non-native milkweed as we’re a stopover point for monarch butterfly migration.

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    • Thank you for the chuckle – ‘native plant police.’ That is perfect. I guess I’m at an age where I think a little of this and a little of that will be just fine as long we’re aware and supplement where needed. How wonderful to be a stopover for the monarchs providing great photography moments.

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  28. Brenda says:

    Oh my, you opened a can of worms (earth, jumping, hammerhead, night-crawling) on the native/non-native plant (not worm) battle lines. While I won’t be going out and stealthily planting invasive plants everywhere I can, I have no patience for the current horror of planting non-natives. I remember backpacking trips in Alaska where dandelions bloomed around remote shelters in the mountains. How they got there, who knows, but they aren’t going away. We cannot turn the clock back. This crazy world is all about mixing things up–people, plants, germs, animals, traditions, art–we can longer recreate “native” habitats, so let’s embrace the best of what the world has to offer, while understanding how the mix of native and non-native plants may or may not change habitats for our native (and non-native) insects, birds, and animals. We need to think creatively and openly rather than creating black and white approaches, with all the accompanying drama. Enough for my rant. I’m heading out to see how my daffodils and tulips are coming along–non-native signs of spring that have brightened my life since I was a child.

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    • Gardening gets more complicated each year with the lists of invasive plants and insects growing by leaps and bounds. Then add the aging process in, and things get more complicated. I have the dreaded Japanese Knotweed and Virginia Creeper right off the borders in the woods and keep trying to make a difference, but I think it’s Invasives 1 and Judy 0. The worms are a whole other chapter that until someone comes up with something to slow them down is a real threat to everyone. I try with the native versus non-native, but at this point in life, I’m not pulling out plants that I love like my peonies. My daffodils and tulips are just barely out of the ground, but I’ll enjoy checking on them every day. Spring is when all your old friends come back to visit, and it’s wonderful.

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  29. bikerchick57 says:

    I planted a butterfly bush in the in-law’s yard one year, but I seem to remember that it either didn’t thrive or it didn’t survive winter. I relied more heavily on daylilies, coneflowers, Russian sage, and a few other perennials that the deer wouldn’t eat. I miss planting perennials in the ground and have them come back in spring. There is something magical about that!

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  30. I have native butterfly plants and so far, they haven’t attracted any butterflies, but the birds love the seeds. They may not be foreign, but they ARE invasive and not exactly beautiful even when they flower. Getting rid of them after they take root is almost impossible. They get really ROOTED and when they flower, they spread seeds — and they also spread by root. Not everything natural and local looks beautiful in ones garden or is non-invasive just because it’s local. We have a lot of invasive plants that we can’t get rid of — wild grape vines and jimson plants, to name just two. Natural isn’t always lovely🌷

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  31. Karen says:

    Hope you find a lovely home in your garden for Miss Violet. In the natives versus non-natives topic, I read a post last year that in England, many of the properties owned by the National Trust were planning to dig up all the fields of tulips and daffodils because they were not native. They let people come and dig up what they wanted. They were not welcomed any more in one area but it was Ok to plant them in another…it doesn’t make sense to me. I just know they are beautiful and give a lot of pleasure when they are in bloom.

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