The butterfly bush, also known as Buddleia davidii, originated in Chile. It was discovered in the 18th century by Adam Buddle, an amateur botanist, when it arrived in England. After being given various names, the term Buddleia davidii finally stuck, and the bush has been a part of many flower gardens since.
The butterfly bush is an herbaceous perennial known for its ability to attract butterflies. Bees, different kinds of birds, and especially hummingbirds are also drawn to the bush for its nectar and honey-scented blossoms. The bush comes up every year and blooms all summer long. The clusters of small lilac-like blossoms stem out 1-2 feet (.30-.60 meters) in length and continue to branch out from each branch with additional clusters of flowers.
There are many different types of butterfly bushes so the plant characteristics can vary from one bush to another. They can be grown in a variety of colors, throwing off beautiful shades of white, pink, red or purple. These colorful clusters have orange throats, and the leaves are a grayish-green shade.
This perennial is very easy to grow and can handle windy and rainy weather with very little pruning needed. A good rainfall can weigh down the branches and make the shrub droop toward the ground, but with a little help, the bush spruces back up. The butterfly bush tolerates alkaline soil and urban pollution quite well. It grows best in full sun and well-drained soil. It is usually free of insects, although it may experience an occasional infestation with spider mites during a drought.
Butterfly bushes are not predictable in their growth habits because they never grow in a neat and tidy fashion. These plants grow unusual, in all different directions, with clusters of flowers and compliment one another. Planting many bushes together creates maximum visual appeal. They can be planted as an anchor for a garden or formed to make an unruly hedge, and often times are used as an ornamental plant.
Dead flowers need hand-picked off the stems because they do not fall off on their own, but remain as dead clusters on the butterfly bush. This causes the shrub to have a less attractive look but also makes it easy for those who wish to collect the seeds of the bush for cultivating purposes. The butterfly bush is a very hardy shrub that is difficult to hurt when pruning no matter what the season, however, flowers grow the best when the bush is severely pruned during late winter or early spring.