Herbs & Plants

Butterfly Bush

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Botanical Name :Buddleia davidii
Family: Buddlejaceae
Genus: Buddleia
Species: B. davidii
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Lamiales

Synonyms : B. variabilis. Buddleja davidii.

Common Names:   Summer lilac,butterfly-bush or orange eye

Habitat :It is native of the Sichuan and Hubei provinces of central China, and of Japan. It is widely used as an ornamental plant, and many named varieties are in cultivation.

B. davidii, named for the French explorer in China, Father Armand David, who first noticed the shrub, was found near Ichang by Dr Augustine Henry about 1887 and sent to St Petersburg. Another botanist-missionary in China, Jean André Soulié, provided seed to the French firm of nurserymen, Vilmorin, and B. davidii came on the Western market in the 1890s.

It can be invasive in many countries, including the United Kingdom, New Zealand, and Australia. Within the United States, it is classified as a noxious weed by the states of Oregon and Washington.

This species is naturalized in most cities of central and southern Europe, where it can spread on wastelands and in gardens.

It is appreciated in butterfly gardens for its value as food for many species of butterflies.

Buddleia davidii is  a deciduous to semi-evergreen shrub with a weeping form that can get 6-12 ft (1.8-3.7 m) tall and have a spread of 4-15 ft (1.2-4.6 m). Butterfly bushes have opposite, 6-10 in (15-25 cm), lance-shaped gray-green leaves on long arching stems. The tiny flowers are irresistible to butterflies. They are borne in long, 8-18 in (20-45.7 cm), cone-shaped clusters that droop in a profusion of color and stay abuzz with winged, nectar-feeding insects from late spring until first frost in autumn. The flower clusters can be so profuse that they cause the branches to arch even more. The flowers of many cultivars are sweetly fragrant. Flower colors may be purple, white, pink, or red, and they usually have an orange throat in the center. There are a great many named selections to choose from. ‘African Queen’ has dark purple flowers. ‘Nanho Blue’ or ‘Petite Indigo’ is compact and smaller, to 5 ft (1.5 m) tall and has 6 in (15 cm) clusters of blue-lavender flowers. ‘Nanho Purple’ and ‘Nanho White’ are also compact bushes. ‘Royal Red’ has flowers of dark reddish purple. ‘White Bouquet‘ has white flowers with orange throats. ‘Opera’ has pink flowers in clusters to 2 ft (0.6 m) long.

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It is not able to survive the harsh winters of northern continental climates, being killed by temperatures below about -15°C to -20°C. Even where it is not killed to the ground, in gardens it is generally partly stooled, with older shoots cut to the ground, as younger wood is more floriferous.

Requires a sunny position. Prefers a rich loamy well-drained soil. Very tolerant of alkaline soils, atmospheric pollution and maritime exposure. Grows best on dry soils of low fertility, where it can seed itself freely. Plants are hardy to about -15°c, they resprout from the base if cut back by cold weather. A very ornamental plant[1], it hybridizes freely with other members of this genus. Polymorphic, there are many named varieties, developed for their ornamental value. The flowers emit a musk-like fragrance like heather honey. Plants flower mainly on the current years growth so a hard pruning in spring will encourage better flowering[200]. An excellent plant for bees and butterflies.

Seed – cold stratify for 4 weeks at 4°c and surface sow the seed in February/March in a greenhouse. Germination usually takes place within 3 – 4 weeks at 21°c. When large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in the greenhouse for at least their first winter, planting them out into their permanent positions in late spring or early summer, after the last expected frosts. Seedlings are inclined to damp off and so should be watered with care and kept well-ventilated. Cuttings of half-ripe wood, July/August in a frame. Use short side-shoots. Very high percentage. Cuttings of mature wood of the current season’s growth, 15 – 20cm long, October/November in a frame

Butterfly bush is the perfect foundation plant for a butterfly garden. The larger cultivars should be placed behind other shrubs and blooming annuals and perennials. Dark flowered varieties show up quite well against a light background. Plant alongside pentas (Pentas lanceolata), lantana (Lantana camara) and zinnias Zinnia elegans) for non-stop butterfly activity, and find a place nearby for parsley (Petroselinum crispum), passion vine (Passiflora incarnata) and other butterfly larval food plants. You may clicl to see: Floridata’s Butterfly Gallery for more ideas.

Medicinal uses:
No appreciable medicinal uses of this plant is available  in the internet.

Other Uses:
Black or green dyes can be obtained from the flowers, leaves and stems combined[168]. An orange-gold to brown dye can be obtained from the flowers.

The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.


2 replies on “Butterfly Bush”

A beautiful post. Thank you for including the link to my site. The medicinal use of Buddleia comes from the joy and peace of mind one enjoys while watching butterflies feeding around it.

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