Photo by Melody

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

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

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

One vendor has this plant for sale.

14 members have or want this plant for trade.


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

4-6 ft. (1.2-1.8 m)

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)
USDA Zone 10b: to 1.7 C (35 F)

Sun Exposure:
Full Sun
Sun to Partial Shade


Bloom Color:

Bloom Time:
Mid Summer
Late Summer/Early Fall
Mid Fall


Other details:
This plant is attractive to bees, butterflies and/or birds
Flowers are fragrant
Drought-tolerant; suitable for xeriscaping
Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater
This plant is resistant to deer

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:
Unknown - Tell us

Propagation Methods:
From softwood cuttings
From semi-hardwood cuttings

Seed Collecting:
N/A: plant does not set seed, flowers are sterile, or plants will not come true from seed

Click thumbnail
to view:

By Debby
Thumbnail #1 of Buddleja davidii by Debby

By Kell
Thumbnail #2 of Buddleja davidii by Kell

By Kell
Thumbnail #3 of Buddleja davidii by Kell

By Calif_Sue
Thumbnail #4 of Buddleja davidii by Calif_Sue

By Xenomorf
Thumbnail #5 of Buddleja davidii by Xenomorf

By Xenomorf
Thumbnail #6 of Buddleja davidii by Xenomorf

By Xenomorf
Thumbnail #7 of Buddleja davidii by Xenomorf

There are a total of 9 photos.
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4 positives
3 neutrals
1 negative

Gardeners' Notes:

Negative heartopensky On May 8, 2011, heartopensky from Beacon, NY (Zone 6b) wrote:

First, to answer lindanat's question: I'm in the Hudson Valley, NY to your NJ, and my 'Harlequin' behaved exactly as you describe in it's first year. I got mine from a Bluestone Perennials in spring '09, in a 4" pot, so the root system was very immature and I assumed that to be the cause. The second year, however, it took off like a rocket - easily 5.' Both years, it was mulched at about 2" hardwood shavings, zone 6 (SE tip of Dutchess Co.), nothing special. But...

I dislike this plant for several reasons: 1) it is supposed to be a dwarf. My growing conditions are far from optimal (not truly full sun; quite a bit of dappled shade), and yet it has still exceeded it's growth max of 4', topping out at 5' last summer. As I've a small yard, carefully planned, this looked horribly oppressive where I planted it.

2) it's growth habit: I expected a "bush," however mine looks like a tall, narrow Miscanthus on shrub legs - yuck! Gawky, ungainly, just plain ugly vase-like form. I've read subsequently that you can "shear" the plant after flowering. I'll give that a whirl this year, but I'm not optimistic (p.s., I cut it back each spring correctly to 12").

3) the variegated foliage REVERTS. Yup. Last year, cut out three reverted stems. This year, it is barely out of the batter's box, and showing signs of 50% reversion, plus strange leaf contortion/undulation (is Buddleja subject to leaf miners??). I'm giving this one more season, and then composing it if I see more reversion/no form improvement from shearing.

On the plus side: it's blooms are gorgeous: true red-violet, which is just what I wanted, and in this it did not disappoint. Looks just *perfect* with the variegated foliage (when it is present! lol). Really wanted to like this one, but I've had bad luck with it. :-(

Neutral lindanat On Jun 4, 2007, lindanat from Asbury Park, NJ wrote:

i planted my dwarf butterfly bush in a spot that gets sun all day. Every day it completely wilts, so then i water it some more.

any shock to the roots should be over by now (been in the ground about 2 weeks. . .).

it's been overcast and rainy for the last 2 days and the plant has perked up.

does anybody know if the roots need to be heavily mulched to keep them cool, like clematis? any other ideas?


Neutral berrygirl On Mar 16, 2007, berrygirl from Braselton, GA (Zone 7b) wrote:

Buddleia davidii 'Harlequin' VARIEGATED BUTTERFLY B Dec (z5) (Fra,Bfly,Cut)
Though the butterflies don't seem to care!, we think the conspicuously cream-variegated leaves of this special variety add greatly to its beauty, combined with its red-purple,frag. flowers (these the bflys do approve of!)S/M

Positive JenniferSM On Mar 18, 2006, JenniferSM from Woodland, CA wrote:

I planted this late in May, and it not only bloomed in its first year, but grew to almost seven feet tall, and approximately five feet at its widest point.

It did not seem to be bothered by a somewhat shady spot (we do get VERY hot in the summer though), and even some watering neglect.

Hope you enjoy it too!

Positive Calif_Sue On Nov 2, 2005, Calif_Sue from Northern California
United States (Zone 9a) wrote:

Easy to grow, I cut this down late fall and it grows fast in the spring to about 7-8 ft.

Positive flowercrazy39 On Aug 26, 2005, flowercrazy39 from Manchester, NH wrote:

Three years and running with this plant and I have gotten more butterflies in my yard than I've ever seen in my life! I have it planted on one side of the railing in my front yard and I just planted a Dark Knight version on the other side. The whole neighborhod comments on how beautiful it is!

Neutral braz911 On May 28, 2004, braz911 from Bow, NH (Zone 5a) wrote:

I just planted this plant for the first time. I am an avid bird watcher and love to be outside in my background. I wanted to attract more life to my yard so I did some homework on the Butterfly plant. So far, my plant is doing well. I don't know if it will bloom for me the first year but time will tell.

Positive dho1655 On Oct 30, 2003, dho1655 from Belvedere Tiburon, CA wrote:

This plant is deer-resistant.


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

Prescott Valley, Arizona
Belvedere Tiburon, California
Chico, California
Garden Grove, California
Long Beach, California
Mountain View Acres, California
Paradise, California
Penn Valley, California
Sacramento, California
San Jose, California
San Leandro, California
Woodland, California
Saint Cloud, Florida
Jesup, Georgia
Boise, Idaho
Aurora, Illinois
Chillicothe, Illinois
Mount Prospect, Illinois
Zion, Illinois
Hagerstown, Indiana
Port Deposit, Maryland
Dearborn Heights, Michigan
Lees Summit, Missouri
Manchester, New Hampshire
La Luz, New Mexico
Beacon, New York
Nineveh, New York
Brevard, North Carolina
Sugar Grove, North Carolina
Cleveland, Ohio
Dayton, Ohio
Owasso, Oklahoma
Morrisville, Pennsylvania
Pawtucket, Rhode Island
North Augusta, South Carolina
Prosperity, South Carolina
Sherman, Texas
Bristow, Virginia
Herndon, Virginia
Lexington, Virginia
Springfield, Virginia
Bothell, Washington
Meadow Creek, West Virginia

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