Butterfly bush

(Question)

My 4 year old butterfly bush didn’t come back this year (had one leaf), any chance of it coming back next year?

(Answer)

The Butterfly bush (Buddleja davidii) is a deciduous to semi evergreen shrub, (depending on your zone), that grows up to 5m tall.  Their long panicles of colourful flowers, their ability to attract butterflies and beneficial insects makes this plant very attractive to gardeners.

Planting a butterfly bush in an optimum location is key to the longevity of this plant.  Choose a sunny or partly shaded area where the soil is well-drained.  Soil that is constantly wet encourages root rot.  Water the shrub slowly and deeply during prolonged dry spells so that the soil absorbs the water deep into the root zone.  It is important to note that in cold climates such as ours the roots require winter protection.  Covering the root zone with a 2-4 inch layer of mulch before the first deep freeze is key to it’s survival.

The past winter (2014-15) was one of the most severe winters we have experienced in a long time.  The extreme cold together with little snow fall resulted in the loss of a number of plants.  Unfortunately, plants such as your butterfly bush which are susceptible to the cold will have suffered.  If you haven’t noticed new shoots/growth by now, chances are the plant will not come back next year.

On the bright side, this provides you with a great excuse to browse your local garden center, where you can find some great bargains at this time of year and an opportunity to try something new.