Few plants shine as brightly in late summer as the buddleia, and when butterflies frisk the nectar-rich flowers they create a high-summer spectacle second to none. Many butterfly gardeners plan their garden around Buddleia. Near a path or patio, they provide delightful fragrance. This well known and much loved fast growing colourful shrub is ridiculously easy to grow from seed. It can flower in the first year from an early sowing and grow to 1m (39in) in its first year. These medium- to large-sized shrubs can anchor a perennial bed or form a hedge. They will also grow well in pots and the bloom stalks are lovely as cut flowers.
Buddleia demonstrates fantastic drought tolerance and indifferent to extreme heat, humidity, maritime exposure and atmospheric pollution. Very easy to maintain: plant in a sunny position, water during flowering and cut back hard in spring for best results. Buddleia blooms all summer long with trusses 20 to 25cm (8 to 10in) long with an intoxicating scent just as overwhelming as their colour show. There is no denying that these shrubs are butterfly magnets. If you plant one, they will find it. Have your camera ready!
Sow indoors at any time of year. Fill pots or trays with seed compost. Stand in water to moisten from the base and drain. Surface sow the seeds and place the containers in a propagator or warm place at an optimum temperature of 20°C (70°F). Germination usually takes 21-60 days. Seedlings are inclined to damp off and so should be watered with care and kept well ventilated. When large enough to handle, prick out the seedlings (touching only the leaves) into individual pots and grow them on in a cold greenhouse. Plant out into their permanent positions in late spring or early summer after the last expected frosts.
If soil is very poor apply fertilizer in spring. Watering deeply in the heat of summer will aid flower production. Deadheading will keep the plant in bloom longer.
Leave the attractive framework intact during winter. Once spring arrives (from end of March) cut the shoots back hard to within 30cm (12in) If you want to keep more height and produce earlier flowers take the stems back to 3ft. Harder-pruned buddleias tend to live longer. They will reward you with vigorous new growth and, since they bloom on new wood, lots of flowers. Some gardeners use a summer cut-back approach to controlling plant size and assuring late summer bloom when migrating butterflies are likely to visit. In July or early August when leaving for vacation the plants are cut back half way. In four weeks the plants will be back in full bloom.
Pronounced BUD-lee-ah, Linnaeus established the genus to posthumously honour his contemporary, the amateur botanist and naturalist Reverend Adam Buddle (1660-1715) who produced Britain's first herbarium. Linnaeus used the spelling Buddleja, but all but the most dogged botanical purists use the more conventional spelling Buddleia. The first butterfly bush, Buddleia globosa reached England from Chile in 1774. The first Buddleia davidii reached Kew Gardens in England in 1896.
The modern garden forms we grow are of Chinese origin and named for the wandering French naturalist and Jesuit missionary to Beijing, Pere Armond David (1826-1900), David had the singular privilege of being assigned the task of studying the natural history of China during the middle years of the 19th century and collected not only plants but mammals, insects, fish, birds, and reptiles for the French government. Among his finds were rhododendrons, primulas, gentians, and even the giant panda. It was David who shipped the first live panda back to Paris, where it promptly starved to death because the finicky dietary requirements of the beast were unknown at the time.
The name "summer lilac" was given to the early hybrids by French nurserymen, many of whom developed the French lilacs of that same period.During the 1920's the name "butterfly bush" became popular as a common name .
One of the NCCPG National Collections is displayed at Longstock Park Nursery, Stockbridge, Hampshire
- Additional Information
Packet Size 10mg Average Seed Count Approx 50 Seeds Family Buddlejaceae Genus Buddleia Species davidii Cultivar Mixed Colours Synonym Buddleja davidii, Buddleia variabilis. Common Name Summer Lilac, Butterfly Magnet Other Common Names Orange Eye Butterflybush Hardiness Shrub Flowers July to October Natural Flower Time Mixed Colours, White, Lilac through to deep Purple. Foliage Grey Green. Height 6 to 15 ft (dependent on pruning) Spread 4 to 8ft (dependent on pruning) Position Sun or dappled shade (Cannot grow in full shade) Time to Sow Sow indoors at any time of year. Germination 21 to 60 days at 20°C (70°F)