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PlantFiles: Butterfly Bush, Summer Lilac, Orange-eye Butterfly Bush
Buddleja davidii

Family: Buddlejaceae
Genus: Buddleja (BUD-lee-uh) (Info)
Species: davidii (duh-VID-ee-eye) (Info)

Synonym:Buddleia davidii
Synonym:Buddleia variabilis
Synonym:Buddleja variabilis

2 vendors have this plant for sale.

39 members have or want this plant for trade.

View this plant in a garden


4-6 ft. (1.2-1.8 m)
6-8 ft. (1.8-2.4 m)
8-10 ft. (2.4-3 m)

6-8 ft. (1.8-2.4 m)

USDA Zone 5a: to -28.8 C (-20 F)
USDA Zone 5b: to -26.1 C (-15 F)
USDA Zone 6a: to -23.3 C (-10 F)
USDA Zone 6b: to -20.5 C (-5 F)
USDA Zone 7a: to -17.7 C (0 F)
USDA Zone 7b: to -14.9 C (5 F)
USDA Zone 8a: to -12.2 C (10 F)
USDA Zone 8b: to -9.4 C (15 F)
USDA Zone 9a: to -6.6 C (20 F)
USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 C (25 F)
USDA Zone 10a: to -1.1 C (30 F)

Sun Exposure:
Full Sun

Pollen may cause allergic reaction

Bloom Color:
Fuchsia (Red-Purple)
Light Blue
White/Near White

Bloom Time:
Late Spring/Early Summer


Other details:
May be a noxious weed or invasive
This plant is attractive to bees, butterflies and/or birds
Flowers are fragrant
Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater

Soil pH requirements:
6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)
6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)
7.6 to 7.8 (mildly alkaline)

Patent Information:

Propagation Methods:
From semi-hardwood cuttings

Seed Collecting:
Allow seedheads to dry on plants; remove and collect seeds

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13 positives
4 neutrals
7 negatives

Gardeners' Notes:

Neutral Clary On Sep 1, 2014, Clary from Lewisburg, PA (Zone 6b) wrote:

I've been growing various Buddleja davidii over the years, as was practically everyone everywhere in my region. Over those years they all aged, contracted a fungus, and died. There are actually very few butterfly bushes in our area now.

As a garden plant, I like lochinch the best, it has an excellent shape, color and is very fragrant. The fuzzy leaves seem to resist mildew more than other varieties. It also didn't reseed, as mine eventually succumbed to mildew as well and died without producing any volunteers.

Nectar feeders weren't very attracted to the lochinch. The various near-wild Buddleja davidii sold as "black knight," "potters purple" etc were the most vigorous and were most attractive to nectar feeders. Of course they grew enormous and reseeded all over.

The past few years I've allowed a few Buddleja davidii volunteers to grow (2-3 plants). When the get about as tall as the Russian spike (3') I dig them out. They don't have very big root systems at that age, sometimes we can pull them out like a big weed. There are always volunteers and we weed them out except for a few to cycle over again. I noticed that if they are kept young & small they don't have disease and the volunteers are limited to the area right around the parent.

For the beauty and nectar of this plant I'm glad to have it in the garden. After digging out a 10' monster I never thought I'd be glad to have one of these plants again! However, it is visited by a giant swallowtail every day this summer.

Instead of a big butterfly bush, I now have tithonia torch which is really beautiful and covered with butterflies, especially monarchs. It's also a native North American plant so I endorse it as an alternative to Buddleja davidii.

Positive seonaidh On Jun 2, 2013, seonaidh from Dublin
Ireland wrote:

The Butterfly bush (Tor an fhileacin) attracts butterflies but grows everywhere and is invasive, it is naturalized here and grows from the smallest niche in a wall. It benefits from being cut back, if hard pruned to a stump it may not bloom the following year. Here it is also (unkindly) called Lustan mn (Piss Weed) because of the leaves smell, or the fact its flowers are drunk and used as a tisane for the kidney, liver and bladder (i am not advising anyone to try this remedy at home!)

Positive DMersh On Aug 18, 2011, DMersh from Perth
United Kingdom (Zone 7b) wrote:

Native to China originally, often found on waste land, old quarries and next to railtracks.
Can grow on very alkaline soil, even chalk rubble in old quarries.
Tends to sprawl rather than grow upright, forms huge clumps.

Negative holeth On Feb 19, 2010, holeth from Corpus Christi, TX (Zone 9a) wrote:

In the late 80s to early 90s, Butterfly bush was hailed as a nectar source for a number of butterfly species. Conservation gardeners were encouraged to plant it as part of butterfly/hummingbird gardens.

10 to 20 years later, the same conservation-minded folks were recruited to go on hikes with loppers & bow-saws to eradicate this stuff from an assortment of public parks and gamelands. I see groves of it along highway embankments. I doubt it was planted there.

Seek sterile cultivars. Monitor growth for unusual shoots. Just like the dwarf alberta spruces can have a branch or two that reverts occasionally, I've seen Buddleja cultivars go a bit wild.

Positive spacehma On Feb 15, 2010, spacehma from Jeddah
Saudi Arabia wrote:

I'm from Jeddah, Saudi Arabia and I love gardening, after early retiring I began to do some hard work on finding some strange plants. I visited a Nursery nearby and the owner of this place (Saudi) described this plant with so much admiration to this plant that I didn't hesitate to buy 2 plants 5 months ago and planted them instantly. They are growing really nice and healthy up to now. now it is February and temp is 24-30 Degrees Celsius still in winter and I'm afraid what it is going to be in real summer where temp is around 40s to mid 50s some times. Wish me luck with this plant. Note: no flowers yet to know what color I'm having.

Positive Sunflower1888 On Feb 11, 2010, Sunflower1888 from Manassas, VA wrote:

I started with one shrub in the mid 1990s now I have at least 5 Butterfly Bushes in my yard. I lose count because they keep having babies! :) I transplant them whenever I can but am running out of space. They are like cast iron. They thrive on neglect and come back like champs every season. The mother plant is a medium purple and mildly fragrant. One of the babies is white with magnificent spires of blooms that are almost without fragrance, another is a darker purple with very fragrant smaller spires of blooms.

If you want to transplant these shrubs do it when they are small. I went to move a mature one last season and the root was as big around as my arm! There was no digging it up. I thought I might have killed it by digging around it. It has put out new growth and is eager to grow for this season :)

Negative Fed_Botanist On Feb 8, 2010, Fed_Botanist from Stayton, OR wrote:

Has been added to the Oregon Noxious Weed Quarantine effective February 4, 2010.

Butterfly bush (Buddleja davidii/ varabilis)

The sale of non-approved B. davidii/ varabilis within the state of Oregon is prohibited effective immediately. The ODA will be issuing Directors Exemptions to nurseries that wish to sell B. davidii/varabilis they currently have in stock to out-of-state customers. These exemptions will be issued for the remainder of this calendar year only and will not be extended.

ODA approved sterile cultivars of Buddleja are not regulated under the newly amended quarantine. The ODA, in cooperation with specialists at Oregon State University, are developing a process to approve sterile varieties of Buddleja.

Positive tomaras3 On Feb 8, 2010, tomaras3 from Harrah, OK wrote:

Planted 3 last spring, blue&purple&and red and all 3 did well. Am looking forward for this spring and watching for more butterflies!

Neutral ival On Feb 8, 2010, ival from Arlington, TX wrote:

This plant has some of the most deliciously fragrant blooms I know of, this side of roses, but has been devilishly difficult to grow here in north Texas. Every one I've planted has died within a year, two at the most. The problem isn't frosts, as the climate here is rather mild. And I've never noticed any insect pests. Hard for me to believe that in some states they are classed a pernicious weed. But I still think they're worth trying here, if just for the fragrance. (As with irises, the deep blues and purples are the sweetest.)

Positive purplesun On Oct 16, 2009, purplesun from Krapets
Bulgaria (Zone 8a) wrote:

A great plant overall. Doesn't seed itself in dry climates but it also doesn't grow well without additional watering. I have three butterfly bush stumps, and they look sorry until they get a couple of lashings of water to help them along.
I love the colours it produces, they are very vibrant and noticeable. Interestingly, there are more bees on this plant than there are butterflies.
I guess that fertilisation and proper pruning makes the difference with butterfly bushes, because there are overgrown and neglected plants on roadsides, that look horrible, and there are lush and upright plants at gas stations, that are smothered in blossoms.

Negative anelson77 On May 20, 2009, anelson77 from Seattle, WA wrote:

A class B noxious weed in washington state. An ecological threat to our natural areas which should not be planted.
Birds eat the seeds which leads to its establishment in wild areas.

Negative mjab17 On Apr 18, 2009, mjab17 from North Billerica, MA wrote:

We had a wonderful plant. grew great the two years it lived

Positive gsteinbe On Aug 19, 2008, gsteinbe from Trenton, NJ wrote:

I grew four Butterfly Bushes from seed (starting them indoors in early spring and then planting them out in summer). They begin *very* small, but within 2 years, one of the four was almost 10 feet tall. Two others in partial shade have now (after 4 years) caught up. The fourth has never been as hardy (initially because of bad placement on my part and being moved a couple times); it's barely 3 feet tall and scraggly too. They definitely draw butterflies, and their flowers smell intoxicating from quite a distance. Seedlings sprout up all over the place. In one case, I had one seedling that sprouted and grew to about 2 feet before I realized it was there -- on the opposite side of my house from any of the other bushes I have. How the seed got there I don't know. On the other hand, I kept transplanting volunteer seedlings to one particular spot where I needed a bush (a spot with lots of sun and dry soil), and they just kept dying. I don't know if they don't like transplanting or if the spot I was moving them to was too hot and dry for them. I know that Butterfly Bushes are considered an invasive exotic, but I really love them. They seem to bloom forever. One drawback is that the plants are so tall and gangly that, especially after they start flowering and after a rain, they flop over onto surrounding plants. Last March, for the first time, I cut the biggest one back to the ground, and it grew back to its full height (although it took a while doing it). I had been told that cutting it back would make it stand up straighter, but it still flopped over. I use two rakes to prop it up (it grows next to my house, so I only need to prop from two sides, and the house does the rest).

Neutral Gabrielle On Jan 15, 2006, Gabrielle from (Zone 5a) wrote:

A pretty plant, but it doesn't draw butterflies for me. Maybe I have too many other plants that are more attractive to them.

I have heard that Butterfly Bush should only be cut back in the spring; otherwise it may die overwinter. Also, from my information, it is hardy in zones 5-10.

Positive MalvaFan On Sep 15, 2005, MalvaFan from Morrice, MI wrote:

I have grown two of the 3in1 Buddlejas for about a half a decade. One thing to consider is that one of the three colors will dominate, the white did on mine. While I do cut it back 6-8 inches every late winter/early spring the bushes seem to be declining .not growing as tall or vigorous. It could be the 3in1 variety the mail order companies sell are not as hardy, I have saved seeds and got them to grow and they did bloom the same year.

Negative Kwanzon On Aug 14, 2005, Kwanzon from Milford, PA (Zone 6a) wrote:

I grew a butterfly bush for 3 years also and then it suddenly died. It is a really nice plant, but how could it have died so suddenly?

Negative arbed On Jul 23, 2005, arbed from Martell, NE wrote:

I am having a problem with this plant. I have tried to grow 2 butterly bushes in the past. One didn't make it through the winter and the other didn't make it through a second winter. Niether of them grew much. I gave them special attention. Can't figure out why they died.
Now I have four of them,Two of them are really doing great. Showing grow,filling out and blooming out! The other two look bad. No new growth,no new flowers. The leaves are more gray than green! I treat them aii the same. They are in the same area. The two that are not doing well are up a bit higher on the upgrade. They are a little more in the open, but that is about the only thing I can see that is different.I really like these bushes and I want to figure out what to do to keep them alive. One last thing. We did purchase them a bit late in the season. My Huasband wonders if it was too late for them to get a good root system before out real hot weather? It has been over 90 degrees for a long time. Was 104 dgrees yesterday. I do make sure to water them. He also wondered if they need shade in this heat? They get full sun.I would appreciate it if someone would give me thie advice about this. Thanks, Deb

Positive nick89 On May 7, 2005, nick89 from Tallahassee, FL (Zone 8b) wrote:

No plant is better to attract butterflies with than butterflybush, although lantana is a close second. It is usually cut back to control size and produce larger flowers. Without pruning it can become an unruly large shrub that can be limbed up to form a small tree. The light purple (wild) form occasionally self sows and the seedlings grow rapidly. It is rather unattractive in winter with seedheads, dead and dying leaves, and young shoots all at the same time.

Positive 8ftbed On Nov 22, 2004, 8ftbed from Zion, IL (Zone 5a) wrote:

To lose some in the northern climates is to be expected but I found initially I was killing them kindness.
Occaisional deep watering and good drainage so they don't sit wet in the winter cold has been reliable. Other users lament about big growth next to the house, as with mine, underscores the benefit of good drainage normally found in that location plus the radiant/ambient heat of the structure.

I have had a few volunteers indicating the seeds can be winter hardy but not invasive in this climate.

Propagation has been exceedingly easy by layering low branches in pots or in the ground. Pots are easier and reduces transplant shock. I've never lost one. Wound and layer branches in early spring and they have roots coming out of the pots by July. By Aug it will be a goodsize blooming bush.

Seeds are very fine like white eyelashes with a very tiny black dot on one end. It's best to leave seedheads on the bush and watch for the ones that ripen and then begin to split open which starts at the end of the head and works back.

Neutral lejdse1 On Sep 13, 2004, lejdse1 from Lincoln Park, MI wrote:

I planted 2 bushes in front of our house with a full Southern exposure. It's good and bad that they LOVE it there. They both grew wider and taller than anticipated, so I'm going to have to transplant one to the back yard come Spring, and move the other one farther from the house than I originally planned. Oh well! Gardening is always a work in progress!

Negative harmony129 On Jun 8, 2004, harmony129 from Warwick, RI (Zone 6b) wrote:

After 3 years of beautiful flowers at nearly 6' high, this bush suddenly died. This spring(2004) it never budded and there are just brown sticks 5' tall sticking out of the ground.

Positive Crimson On Feb 3, 2003, Crimson from Clarksville, TN (Zone 6b) wrote:

I like this bush! It starts flowering at 12" so it's the perfect shrub to grow from seed, in the begining it can be treated as a perrenial flower until it grows large, just don't cut it back in the fall unless it has reached a hieght you like.

Positive smiln32 On Jul 30, 2002, smiln32 from Oklahoma City, OK (Zone 7a) wrote:

Wonderful for luring butterflies into the yard...even blooms in shade.

Positive Terry On Mar 7, 2001, Terry from Murfreesboro, TN (Zone 7a) wrote:

I "discovered" these wonderful shrubby herbaceous plants 15 years ago. They are relatively easy to raise from seed (depending on the variety), and produce dense lavender, pink, white, or blue spikes in mid- to late- summer through frost on graceful gray-green foliage arches.

Spring pruning can help keep them in good form.


This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

, (2 reports)
Arab, Alabama
New Market, Alabama
Springville, Alabama
Goodyear, Arizona
Kirkland, Arizona
Carlotta, California
Castro Valley, California
Concord, California
Elk Grove, California
Merced, California
San Diego, California
Deltona, Florida
Keystone Heights, Florida
Kissimmee, Florida
Naples, Florida
Tampa, Florida
Jonesboro, Georgia
Milledgeville, Georgia
Villa Rica, Georgia
Waverly Hall, Georgia
Barrington, Illinois
Crystal Lake, Illinois
Jacksonville, Illinois
Steger, Illinois
Washington, Illinois
Zion, Illinois
Bloomington, Indiana
Evansville, Indiana
Davenport, Iowa
Fairfield, Iowa
Shawnee Mission, Kansas (2 reports)
Barbourville, Kentucky
Barlow, Kentucky
Caneyville, Kentucky
Smiths Grove, Kentucky
Baton Rouge, Louisiana
Cumberland, Maryland
Quincy, Massachusetts
Morrice, Michigan
Pinconning, Michigan
Minneapolis, Minnesota
Roach, Missouri
Hooksett, New Hampshire
Hudson, New Hampshire
Cranford, New Jersey
Jamesburg, New Jersey
Middlesex, New Jersey
Trenton, New Jersey
Binghamton, New York
Etowah, North Carolina
Vale, North Carolina
Defiance, Ohio
Wakeman, Ohio
Harrah, Oklahoma
Portland, Oregon
Denver, Pennsylvania
Houston, Pennsylvania
Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania
Lewisburg, Pennsylvania
Walnutport, Pennsylvania
Longs, South Carolina
Crossville, Tennessee
Goodlettsville, Tennessee
Lenoir City, Tennessee
Middleton, Tennessee
Arlington, Texas
Austin, Texas
Bellaire, Texas
Boerne, Texas
Port Neches, Texas
Roanoke, Texas
West Dummerston, Vermont
Charlottesville, Virginia
Manassas, Virginia
Portsmouth, Virginia
Mountlake Terrace, Washington
Ridgefield, Washington
Seattle, Washington
Sedro Woolley, Washington
Charleston, West Virginia

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