Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Plant profile: Buddleja

The roughly 100 species of Buddleja are mostly shrubs, a few being trees; the largest species get to 30m tall, but most species are much smaller.

The plant was named after a seventeenth-century amateur botanist and rector named Reverend Adam Buddle, who was honored posthumously when the first butterfly bush reached Britain in 1774. (Additional note from my Pa: "...the common garden toughie B. davidii was sent to Kew in 1887 from Shanghai by Henry, an Irish custom official and named after Pere David. Its success as a weed on neglected ground and on roofs of building and tops of walls is amazing. It does not need soil!!!!")

Latin name: Buddleja (pronounced "BUD-lee-ah") often spelled Buddleia
Common name: Buddleja, Butterfly Bush
Originally from: The New World from the southern United States south to Chile, and in the Old World in Africa and the warmer parts of Asia.
Blooms: All shades of purple and also white are commonly seen, with red, orange and yellow ones being available too. All are rich in nectar and often strongly scented.
Light: Full sun.
Water: Pretty drought tolerant.
Height x width: 6'x10'
Zones: 5-10
Where to find in P. Garden: There are two in the red bed: "Ellen’s Blue." above, and a lighter purple one in that Joan gave us (below).  An unusual Buddleja we have added is Buddleja x weyeriana "Honeycomb" - it will have round orangey-yellow flowers, and it's in the left bed.

Butterflies, bees and moths love this plant, and you can smell its scent wafting in the breeze. Lovely. Ours get cut back hard in the winter and come back in spring to flower on new growth.

Note that these are considered massively invasive weeds in some parts of the world so take that into account.

UPDATE December 2015:
After 4 years of drought and the ravages of the light brown apple moth (the only plants in the garden to be affected) these plants were looking awful. We removed 2 out of the three Buddlejas, and will remove the third too. With slightly more water than zero, these guys would be a super tough, butterfly attracting mega-shrub.

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