Buddleia is a beautiful bush to have in any garden as not only will it brighten your garden with it’s lilac, white or brighter red and blue shades of flowers, but it will also attract considerable wildlife. Commonly known as the “Butterfly Bush”, Buddleia is well known for its ability to draw butterflies to your garden, as well as other pollinating insects!
Buddleia or Buddleja? What is the difference?
Buddleia and Buddleja are actually exactly the same thing! The reason for the confusion is because of a gentleman called Linnaeus who, when writing in his Species Plantarum in 1753, spelt the plant Buddleja with a long ‘i’. This was reinforced in the International Code of Botanical Nomenclature (2006) which stated that Buddleja was correct – however, most garden centres will still call the plant Buddleia. To avoid confusion, for this article we will continue to go against Linnaeus’ requests and refer to the plant as Buddleia! Here’s hoping he doesn’t hold it against us!
Types of Buddleia
There are over 100 species of Buddleia, which vary in size, colour and form, but the most common is Buddleia davidii, which is found not just in gardens but up and down the countryside and even along many railway tracks! Buddleia will grow to at least 6 foot but can grow to around 10 foot tall if given the opportunity – so choose an area of your garden that has plenty of space! Buddleia are perennial plants, which means that they will grow year after year, and for Buddleia they don’t even require a lot of support to do this! Most varieties are also semi-evergreen plants so once they have flowered will only lose their foliage for a very short period of time.
We have listed some of the most popular types of Buddleia to help you decide what will be right for your garden:
- Buddleia davidii – As mentioned above, this is one of the most popular types of Buddleia and has many sub-forms such as ‘Black Knight’ and ‘Royal Red’. These come in a wide variety of colours and reach between 2m to 4m.
- Buddleia ‘Lochinch’ – This is a hybrid variety of Buddleia which has bright lavender flowers that can sometimes even form shades of blue. They will usually grow to around 3.5m, but can grow taller!
- Buddleia ‘Argentea’ – These can grow up to 3.5m with delightful pink flowers that will give off a wonderful scent. It really is no wonder that the butterflies flock to them!
- Buddleia ‘Unique’ – This is a much smaller type of Buddleia that can be grown in pots if necessary. Similar to other types of Buddleia flowers they are most commonly found in lilac, however, the “unique” thing about these plants is that they will not self-seed around your garden, so saves you having to check your garden for the plant trying to take control!
Growing and Caring for Buddleia
Buddleia is best planted in late autumn or early spring, to help to avoid any particularly cold spells. Otherwise, Buddleia is a very hardy plant that is relatively easy to look after. It is best to plant your Buddleia in well-drained soil if possible, to stop the plant from becoming waterlogged. We would recommend watering your Buddleia regularly while it grows, especially during particularly dry weather! Just be careful not to overwater your plant as this can inhibit its ability to grow.
Bear in mind that your Buddleia will grow to be very large so when planting leave plenty of space for it to grow (usually around 5 to 10 feet depending on the variety)! Make sure to provide a good compost when first planting (this can be put in the bottom of the hole) but otherwise Buddleia doesn’t tend to need fertilising as they can grow in most soil conditions without much support.
As Buddleia grows so quickly it is important to prune at least once a year – ideally in Spring. Intense pruning is needed to support your plant to grow to the best of its ability otherwise the branches and buds can become overcrowded and struggle to flower as well as they have the potential to!
Buddleia – Friend or Foe?
Buddleia is a beautiful plant that grows at a rapid pace and can attract a vast amount of wildlife into your garden. However, in Britain, it is actually classed as an invasive species! This is due to its ability to grow almost anywhere – and at a rapid rate too! This is fantastic for your garden, as makes your life a lot easier, but be careful to monitor your plant and other areas of your garden, to be sure that it is not taking over! The seeds in Buddleia are highly-dispersible so can travel to other parts of the garden easily – a way to avoid this is to remove the seed heads after flowering, this will also help areas outside your garden to not be taken over by this attractive but determined plant!
Frequently Asked Questions
I have a small garden – are there any smaller types of Buddleia that would be suitable for my garden?
There are now some forms of specially cultivated “Dwarf” buddleias which are perfect to be grown in pots in smaller gardens. The names of these vary depending on the creator but some types include; Buddleia Buzz, Buddleia Red/White/Blue Chip and Miniature Buddleia.
Are Buddleias susceptible to diseases?
In general, Buddleias are hardy plants that are unlikely to pick up any diseases. However, there are a couple of diseases to watch out for. One is Downy Mildew, which can occur when it is particularly cold. This can be avoided by giving the plant plenty of space and keeping the ground around them clear of leaves. The second most common disease in Buddleia is Rhizoctonia – a fungal issue in the roots – which if left, can destroy your plant. If you notice the roots starting to rot then applying a fungicide can help.