Pruning Buddleias - Butterfly Bushes
- How and when to prune Buddleia
Buddleia davidii are the popular garden Butterfly Bushes. They need to
be pruned at the right time. We take you through the steps of pruning
your Buddleia and explain why spring is the best time to prune.
This section is for the Buddleia davidii types only. The
Buddleia davidii are the proper 'Butterfly Bushes' though the others
also attract butterflies - and bees etc. See the link at the bottom of
the page for for
If you don't prune Buddleia each year, it will get out of hand and
untidy - just like the wild ones that sprout up wherever they can.
Buddleia Globosa also needs different pruning treatment - see the
A-Z at bottom of page.
How to prune, and when to prune Buddleia davidii
photo on the left is typical of the Buddleia davidii types. In this case
it is Buddleia davidii Highland Blue.
Incidentally, this rather plump healthy looking flower, is as a
result of proper pruning of the Butterfly Bush. Without pruning, the
flower would have been smaller, and get progressively smaller as every
This group of
shrubs flower on new growth made in the current year, so
it is to your advantage to prune the shrub well to produce
many flowering shoots. These shoots that emerge as a
result of properly pruning the Buddleja will have an upright, then
arching habit of growth - totally unlike the 'wild' Buddleias that are
seen on vacant building site - or growing out of walls!
How and When to Prune Buddleia. Prune in early Spring
The pruning should take place early in the spring -
March is normally ok, and the new shoots that have probably strted to
form on your Buddleia are very hardy, and not normally prone to frost
damage. Better still if you prune before growth starts proper. If the
new leaves have started to form - worry not. you can still carry out the
Prune the Buddleia down to around 30cm (12
in) from ground level at this time. There may already be sprouting
shoots on the Buddleia in a mild spring. No matter - Prune it back hard.
This will make the Butterfly Bush grow many new arching branches, that
will have larger flowers than if it had not been pruned.
The scribbles in left sketch, show the
old bush at the top, with suggested pruning height. Yes, the pruned
Butterfly Bush will look like a stag's antlers - but not for long.
Within a few weeks it will start into grow the give you a nice arching
shrub, that will soon grow to around 6ft - 1.8 metres in a matter of a
couple of months, and have fresh foliage, and large flowers drooping the
branches over to give a pleasing arching habit.
The new main stems, will also send out
some side shoots, which will also flower - but smaller flowers than the
main tip end blooms.
As well as this hard prune in the spring, it is also
beneficial to prune off all the dead and faded flowers once the main
flowering season is over. This will be of benefit to the plant - not
having to produce seeds on the old flowers - and it will bloom again
later on. Take off all of the dead flowers regularly, and your Buddleia
will flower until well into the autumn.
Once you have finished pruning your Buddleia, you
should end up with a framework of stems (stumps!) around 30-45cm from
For Buddleia bushes at the back of a large border, you
can perhaps just cut back to around 60cm each year. This will have the
advantage of the flowering stems starting higher up and you will be able
to plant other shrubs and perennials under or near to the base. The
arching stems of the butterfly bush will then be seen higher up at the
back of the border.
A pair of sharp loppers may be
for the larger branches on Buddleia
It is nicer work on a sunny day! Time to prune when Forsythia and
Daffodills are out in flower.
This is what the 'short back and
sides' should look like when finished. (Be
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| Pruning Buddleia
globosa | Pruning Buddleia
By David Hughes -