When I was a (more) novice gar­dener, I made the mistake…

…of think­ing that the tiny but­ter­fly bush I dragged home from my local gar­den cen­ter couldn’t pos­si­bly grow to be 12 feet high as the tag described. I though that per­haps other people’s but­ter­fly bushes might get that big, but mine surely wouldn’t. The hard­pan Mary­land clay, my rel­a­tive inex­pe­ri­ence or a host of poten­tial per­ils would surely pre­vent 12 feet of unfet­tered growth.

Five years have proven me quite wrong.

 

butterfly-bush-hydrangea2.jpg

I have spent three years star­ing at amaze­ment as the bush that I reli­giously hack to about three feet of sticks in the fall burst back to life and grow to nearly 12 feet by June. The but­ter­fly bush has been threat­en­ing to over­take the two Nikko Blue Hydrangeas planted on either side.

In fact, the but­ter­fly bush has grown so unwieldy that I planned on hav­ing Wal­ter, my some­times handy­man, dig up the beast and move it to a more suit­able loca­tion. Unfor­tu­nately, Wal­ter was a lit­tle late in arriv­ing this year and the bush was already in full leaf–not a good time for a major move.

We’ll be liv­ing with the mon­ster but­ter­fly bush again this year. The beauty of it, though, is that with all the blooms, the bush attracts dozens of but­ter­flies at any time. The don’t call it a but­ter­fly bush with­out a good rea­son. I can look out my kitchen win­dow and see but­ter­flies any time of the day.

 

swallowtail-butterfly3.jpg

 

It’s hard to beat that. And I’ll cer­tainly miss that nature show when the but­ter­fly bush is finally moved to roomier quarters.

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20 Comments

  • Ah, you must have thought you lived in the Mid­west, where But­ter­fly Bush is a die back shrub that never gets that big. Neat for see­ing butterflies.

    Really? This one dies back in the win­ter, but that doesn’t slow the sum­mer growth. I know that they are also con­sid­ered inva­sive in some places. Not in Mary­land. I have never see any evi­dence of it spreading.

    Robin at Bumblebee

  • Brenda Kula says:

    Oh my good­ness! I just planted one about two feet tall a few months ago. In the midst of other bushes! And it will get that big? I didn’t believe the tag!
    Brenda

    If the tag said 12 feet, believe it!

    Robin at Bumblebee

  • Robin says:

    Maybe I need to move mine too. I live in the Mid­west, but I don’t want to take any chances that mine can get that large. It’s bloom­ing now, but I’ve yet to see a but­ter­fly on it. Hope­fully soon.

    If you still have the tag it’s worth check­ing to see what the size pro­jec­tion is. I think that dif­fer­ent vari­eties grow to dif­fer­ent sizes.

    It is odd about the but­ter­flies though. I really didn’t believe they would attract so many, but it does.

    Robin at Bumblebee

  • Stacy says:

    We live in Florida…and I bought FOUR???? Ack.


    I’m really laugh­ing here. i won­der if you have the 12 foot mon­ster variety.

    Robin at Bumblebee

  • Benjamin says:

    Hey, MINE won’t get that big. I have NEBRASKA clay, much thicker and harder. Oh, yesssssirrrrreeeee.


    Well, maybe you have a dif­fer­ent kind of but­ter­fly bush too. I wish I had kept the tag so I could tell every­one exactly what kind this is.

    Robin at Bumblebee

  • deb says:

    I put one in a four by four foot spot between two rose bushes. Total disaster.

    Hoh, I can see how that can hap­pen. You didn’t say what you did. Tear it out?

    Robin at Bumblebee

  • cloverann says:

    Robin — replace it with the new Pea­cock (or Pea­keep) series (only get 4′-5′ they say). But­ter­flies still love it.
    I planted one spring 07 — it’s lovely, branch­ing and well behaved here in hot Nor Calif.
    so far.

    I’ll look into the Pea­cock series. There are many other places I could put but­ter­fly bushes. And I do love them because they are like but­ter­fly magnets.

    Robin at Bumblebee

  • Seri­ously — TWELVE FEET? I have three of them. Not in places for 12 ft trees! Mine are a year or two old. Hmm­mmm. I love them though — I have one laven­der and two stun­ningly beau­ti­ful magenta-ish col­ors that take your breath away. I love that one between your hydrangeas — which, by the way, are also beautiful.

    I’m think­ing that not ALL but­ter­fly bushes will get to be 12 feet. Mine is though.

    Robin at Bumblebee

  • meems says:

    If they really do grow to 12 feet I’m in trou­ble. Look­ing at the close up shot of the flow­ers mine look to be a dif­fer­ent vari­ety … let’s hope so.

    The hydrangea are absolutely stun­ning… I’m very jeal­ous of those blue beau­ties.
    Meems @Hoe&Shovel

    The hydrangeas were planted the same time as the but­ter­fly bush. They are Nikko Blue. i have so many flow­ers that we cut and bring them indoors.

    Robin at Bumblebee

  • I made the same mis­take. I had two of them in cramped quar­ters. I even­tu­ally moved them, and they died within a year. They have these run­ner roots, and they were chok­ing out the other plants.~~Dee

  • Gail says:

    That is one big But­ter­fly Bush! It does a great job of block­ing your view, too! Where will it be relo­cated? Meems is right, those are good look­ing Nikko Blue Hydrangeas!

    Gail

  • sky says:

    when i lived in atlanta i had a pur­ple mid­night vari­ety which i cut back to 2 feet each year and which grew each spring/summer to about 6 feet, but mine was never as bushy as yours. but­ter­flies loved it, and so did i. now here in puget sound i want to buy 3 or 4 which can grow about 12′ high behind the rock gar­den at the back of our prop­erty. in sum­mer they will be a glo­ri­ous back­drop, pur­ple and laven­der cones feed­ing but­ter­flies. i can hardly wait! i will be sure to check tags since i didn’t real­ize until read­ing here that they grew dif­fer­ent heights. :)

  • jodi says:

    Sigh. I can only DREAM about bud­dleia doing this–I buy them as lit­tle plants in 4 inch pots usu­ally each year, and they grow fairly well and flower…then die over win­ter. In some parts of North Amer­ica, they’re self­seed­ing and becom­ing a nui­sance but that will never be on this end of the con­ti­nent!
    I love the yel­low one the best, and it seems to be extra-spleeny and slow to flower here. But I keep hoping.…

  • eliz says:

    OH MY GOD!!! This will never hap­pen to me–as oth­ers have com­mented, you live in a pos­si­ble zone for this. But I am always encour­aged by the way my two but­ter­fly bushes res­ur­rect them­selves every summer.

  • […] big sis­ter has a crazy plant that she didn’t think would pos­si­bly grow as big as was adver­tised. I have one of those. I […]

  • RuthieJ says:

    That but­ter­fly bush (with accom­pa­ny­ing tiger swal­low­tail) is some­thing this Zone 4 gar­dener can only dream about!

  • Kim says:

    I have the same Hydrangea as you have beside your but­ter­fly bush. It is prob­a­bly 30 years old, and not in great shape; they’re in full sun, (I live on the south west coast of Canada), and every year the flow­ers bloom that beau­ti­ful cerulean blue and promptly turn brown. How do you care for yours?

    Kim in Van­cou­ver, BC

  • joann rodriguez says:

    please let me nkow if i can save mt but­ter­fly bush it looks dead after three years of boom­ing and I never touched it or any­thing why would it die? thank you joann

  • Peggy says:

    My white but­ter­fly bush is about 20 feet high and 20 feet round and I love it! Its always full of bees and but­ter­flys and hum­ming­birds. Robins build their nests in it every spring. I NEVER prune mine back ever. Its right off my porch and I sit and drink my tea and watch the show from my porch. The trunks or branches are 5 inches in diam­e­ter. It hangs close to the ground and my daugh­ter wants to build a fort under its branches. I would let her except for the ticks. I live in Har­ris­burg, PA where we some­times get some pretty bad ice storms and I thought for sure a cou­ple of times I would lose my beloved bush but it bounces back every singlr time.

  • Diana says:

    I have a but­ter­fly bush, its turn­ing brown and the leaves are start­ing to fall off. The bush is in its sec­ond sum­mer and did well over the win­ter and spring. I planted it in my but­ter­fly gar­den and with the record high temps (Mary­land) I water it every­day. What should I do? Pull it out and get a new one or just ride it out and see what hap­pens next spring? What else should I do? HELP!