Buddleja, Butterfly Bush, Orange-eye Butterfly Bush, Summer Lilac 'Harlequin'

Buddleja davidii

Family: Scrophulariaceae (skrof-yoo-larr-ee-AY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Buddleja (BUD-lee-uh) (Info)
Species: davidii (duh-VID-ee-eye) (Info)
Cultivar: Harlequin




Water Requirements:

Drought-tolerant; suitable for xeriscaping

Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater

Sun Exposure:

Full Sun

Sun to Partial Shade



Good Fall Color

This plant is resistant to deer

Foliage Color:

Unknown - Tell us


4-6 ft. (1.2-1.8 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)

Where to Grow:

Grow outdoors year-round in hardiness zone



Bloom Color:

Fuchsia (red-purple)

Bloom Characteristics:

This plant is attractive to bees, butterflies and/or birds

Flowers are fragrant

Bloom Size:

Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Time:

Mid Summer

Late Summer/Early Fall

Mid Fall

Other details:

May be a noxious weed or invasive

Soil pH requirements:

5.6 to 6.0 (acidic)

6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)

6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)

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


This plant is said to grow outdoors 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

show all

Gardeners' Notes:


On Aug 2, 2016, coriaceous from ROSLINDALE, MA wrote:

A sport of 'Royal Red' with a cream-colored edge to the leaves. In the southeastern US, it has unfortunately proven to be a weak grower and is very prone to having branches revert to solid green.

This species isn't long-lived (usually under 10 years). Hard pruning (to 6") annually in early spring helps it renew itself and improves bloom.

All B. davdii cultivars require weekly deadheading for them to look and bloom its best.

In some places, B. davidii can be an invasive weed: England, France, New Zealand, and the states of Oregon and Washington. It has naturalized in eastern N. America but is not considered invasive there. Recent cultivars are usually selected for dramatically reduced fertility.This species has naturalized along the west coast of... read more


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 h... read more


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?



On Mar 16, 2007, berrygirl from Braselton, GA (Zone 8a) 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


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!


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.


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!


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.


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

This plant is deer-resistant.