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The Buddleia is back in a big way. A flurry of plant research and production began when Butterfly Bush (Buddleia davidii) was taken off of the market a few years ago. The mission was to find Buddleia that are seedless, since the Butterfly Bush that we had all fallen in love with reproduces at an incredible rate & bullies its way into waterways, street-sides & pastures.
Several new varieties of Seedless Butterfly Bush are the result of this research, with each year bringing more great selections. The Oregon Department of Agriculture has approved all available varieties, with one caveat; we can't call it Butterfly Bush any more. In their view, Butterfly Bush is synonymous with the seedy type (B. davidii). So when you're shopping for the new seedless forms, look for plants with the common names Summer Lilac, Nectar Bush or Seedless Butterfly Bush.
Why did we fall in love with Butterfly Bush in the first place? That's easy. Summer flowers that smell delicious and feed butterflies and hummingbirds, frosty blue-green leaves, easy care and fast growth.
The new seedless Buddleia don't have as broad a range of colors as before (no dark purple yet) but the range of mature sizes is broader (2' to 15'), so as long as you have a good splash of afternoon sunshine, there is a Buddleia that will fit your yard.
'Asian Moon' – Lavender flowers in long cone shape clusters have good rich color and smell great. (shown above)Grows 7' X 5', Z6
Low & Behold 'Blue Chip' – Lavender flowers in cone shape clusters, blue-green leaves and much smaller habit than most.
Grows 2-3' x 2-3', Z5 (shown in right column)
Flutterby Grande 'Blueberry Cobbler' – Blue flowers with prominent orange eyes in cone-shape clusters.
Grows 4-6' X 4-6', Z5
Flutterby Grande 'Peach Cobbler' – Shrimp pink flowers with orange eyes in cone-shape clusters.
Grows 4-6' X 4-6', Z5
Flutterby Petite 'Snow White' – White flowers in small light clusters in spring & summer
Grows 2-3' X 2-3', Z5
Flutterby 'Pink' – Pretty rose pink flowers in long cone-shape clusters that point up rather than drooping.
Grows 4-5' X 4-5', Z5
'Miss Ruby' – Saturated magenta red flowers in cone-shape clusters.
Grows 4-6' X 4-5', Z5
Buddleias that are different species than B. davidii have not caused problems and have not been regulated.
Orange Ball Tree, Buddleia globosa - Sherbet orange flowers in tight round clusters in May, green leaves, fast upright growth.
Grows 10-15' X 8-12', Z7 -10°f
Hever Castle Seedless Butterfly Bush Buddleia pikei 'Hever Castle' – Arching branches festooned with pale lavender flowers and frosty blue leaves, blooms in May, prune after bloom.
Grows 6' X 6', Z6 0°f
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Family: Scrophulariaceae, Buddlejaceae, Loganiaceae
Genus: Buddliea or Buddleja (bud-LEE-uh) – named for the Reverend Adam Buddle, an amateur botanist from England.
Common: Seedless Butterfly Bush, Nectar Bush, Summer Lilac (formerly known as Butterfly Bush)
Origin: Native to East Asia & South America
Characteristics: About 100 species of shrubs and small trees, deciduous or evergreen (deciduous in Oregon), square stems & mostly opposite leaves. Summer flowers in clusters are white, apricot, orange, pink, red, lavender or purple. Butterflies and Hummingbirds feed on nectar from Buddliea flowers.
The species Buddleia davidii produces copious seeds that sprout easily and are invasive. A single flower cluster of Buddleia davidii 'Potter's Purple' can make up to 40,000 seeds! Seeds can be carried long distances and proliferate in open areas like roadways, waterways & pastures.
Buddleia davidii is considered a noxious weed in Oregon and is illegal to sell in the state, but so far is legal to have in your yard. Still, it's a good idea to support our waterways and replace the seedy Butterfly Bush with seedless types.
Low – 2-3' x 2-3'
Medium – 4-5' x 4-5'
Large – 6-10' x 6-10'
Culture: Buddleia grows best in full sun with well-drained soil. Once it's rooted into an area, Buddleia needs little summer water. Remove spent flowers to encourage budding. Some varieties bloom on old wood, so must be pruned after bloom. Taller varieties grow fast and are a bit brittle & rangy, so pruning is often a necessity.
Problems: There are a few problems. First, while we are super happy to have so many options in new seedless Buddleia colors, we have not yet seen a dark purple variety. Those of us who loved 'Black Knight' need a good seedless dark purple please! STAT!
Diseases are few. Overwatering can cause root-rot, so once plants are established, limit summer water.
Buddleias that grow fast can be gangly and brittle, so keep that in mind when planning your garden. The pay-off of more butterflies and hummingbirds flitting about is probably worth it, but try a low-growing variety if you find junior high gawkiness too much to take.