Butterfly Bush (Buddleja ‘Bicolor’)

Plant: Table of Contents

Butterfly Bush (Buddleja ‘Bicolor’)


Butterfly bush, scientifically known as Buddleja ‘Bicolor’, is a stunning and versatile plant that is a favorite among gardeners. This plant is revered for its beautiful butterfly-like flowers and its ability to attract pollinators, particularly butterflies. In this comprehensive guide, we will delve into the various aspects of the butterfly bush, including its culture, uses, maintenance, and much more. Whether you are a seasoned gardener or a novice enthusiast, this article will provide you with the knowledge and insights to cultivate and care for the butterfly bush successfully.

What is Plant: Butterfly Bush (Buddleja ‘Bicolor’)?

The butterfly bush, or Buddleja ‘Bicolor’, is a deciduous shrub that belongs to the family Scrophulariaceae. It is widely acclaimed for its exquisite and fragrant flowers which bloom in a myriad of colors, attracting a range of pollinators, particularly butterflies. This plant is native to regions in China and Japan, where it thrives in sunny, well-drained habitats.

Key Takeaways – Butterfly Bush (Buddleja ‘Bicolor’)

Before we embark on an in-depth exploration of the butterfly bush, let’s highlight some key takeaways that will serve as an overview of the topics we will cover:

  • Cultivation: Understanding the cultural requirements for nurturing a thriving butterfly bush.
  • Uses: Exploring the various uses of the butterfly bush in gardens and landscapes.
  • Maintenance: Learning about essential practices such as pruning, watering, and fertilizing the plant.
  • Propagation: Delving into effective methods for propagating the butterfly bush.
  • Common Diseases and Pests: Identifying potential threats to the health of the butterfly bush and how to address them.
  • Fun Facts: Discovering interesting and noteworthy aspects of the butterfly bush.

Now, let’s delve into each of these aspects in detail.


The successful cultivation of the butterfly bush (Buddleja ‘Bicolor’) requires a sound understanding of its cultural needs, including water, sunlight, fertilizer, soil, and pruning.


Water is essential for the growth and development of the butterfly bush. However, it is crucial to strike a balance as overwatering can lead to root rot, while underwatering can result in stunted growth and poor flowering. It is best to water the plant deeply but infrequently, ensuring that the soil is well-drained. During dry periods, it is important to provide regular irrigation, especially for young plants that are establishing their root systems.


The butterfly bush thrives in full sunlight and requires at least 6-8 hours of direct sun each day. Adequate sunlight promotes robust growth and abundant flowering, making it essential for the plant’s overall health and vitality.


Proper fertilization is key to enhancing the growth and blooming of the butterfly bush. A balanced, slow-release fertilizer with a higher phosphorus content can be applied in spring to encourage prolific flowering. It is advisable to refrain from over-fertilizing, as excessive nitrogen can result in lush foliage at the expense of flowers.


The butterfly bush thrives in well-drained, fertile soil. While it is adaptable to various soil types, including sandy and loamy soils, it is important to prioritize soil drainage to prevent waterlogging. Amending the soil with organic matter such as compost can improve its structure and nutrient content, providing an optimal growing medium for the plant.


Pruning plays a crucial role in maintaining the health, shape, and flowering capacity of the butterfly bush. Regular pruning, preferably in late winter or early spring, helps to remove dead or damaged wood, stimulate new growth, and control the plant’s size. Additionally, the removal of spent flower spikes can encourage the production of new blooms and prolong the flowering season.


The butterfly bush (Buddleja ‘Bicolor’) is celebrated for its versatility and myriad uses in gardens, landscapes, and beyond. Let’s explore some of the key uses of this captivating plant.

  • Garden Borders: The butterfly bush serves as an excellent choice for creating vibrant and fragrant borders in gardens, adding an enchanting allure to the landscape.

  • Pollinator Gardens: With its nectar-rich flowers, the butterfly bush is a staple in pollinator gardens, attracting a diverse array of butterflies, bees, and other beneficial insects.

  • Cut Flowers: The alluring blooms of the butterfly bush make for exquisite cut flowers, adorning floral arrangements and bringing a touch of natural beauty to indoor spaces.

  • Fragrance Gardens: The captivating fragrance of the butterfly bush’s flowers makes it an ideal addition to fragrance gardens, infusing the air with its sweet and aromatic scent.

  • Container Gardening: Compact varieties of the butterfly bush are well-suited for container gardening, allowing enthusiasts with limited space to enjoy its beauty on patios, balconies, or urban settings.

  • Wildlife Habitat: Beyond its ornamental value, the butterfly bush creates a welcoming habitat for butterflies and other pollinators, contributing to the conservation of these essential creatures.


Effectively maintaining the butterfly bush entails a range of practices, including propagation, container care, and disease and pest management.


Propagation of the butterfly bush can be achieved through various methods such as:
Seeds: Growing the plant from seeds offers a cost-effective and rewarding way to propagate new specimens. Sowing the seeds in a well-drained seed-starting mix and providing adequate warmth and moisture can yield successful germination.

  • Softwood Cuttings: Taking softwood cuttings in late spring or early summer and providing the right conditions for rooting can result in the establishment of new plants.

  • Division: Dividing established clumps of the butterfly bush can be an effective method of propagation, allowing for the creation of multiple plants from a single specimen.

Container Popularity

The compact and manageable nature of certain butterfly bush varieties makes them well-suited for container gardening. This flexibility allows gardening enthusiasts to enjoy the beauty of the plant even in limited spaces, such as patios, decks, and balconies. Selecting the appropriate container size, ensuring proper drainage, and providing regular watering and fertilization are essential for successfully growing the butterfly bush in containers.

Common Diseases

While generally robust and disease-resistant, the butterfly bush is susceptible to certain diseases that can impact its health and vigor. Some common diseases that may affect the plant include:
Powdery Mildew: This fungal disease presents as a white, powdery growth on the leaves, often causing them to curl and distort. Adequate air circulation and the removal of affected plant parts can help prevent and manage powdery mildew.

  • Root Rot: Waterlogged soil can lead to the occurrence of root rot, causing the plant to exhibit symptoms such as wilting, yellowing foliage, and stunted growth. Preventing overwatering and ensuring proper drainage are crucial in averting this issue.

Disease Diagnosis

Diagnosing and addressing diseases in the butterfly bush involves keen observation and proactive measures. Regular monitoring of the plant for visual symptoms such as leaf spots, wilting, discoloration, or abnormal growth can aid in identifying potential diseases early. Prompt action, including the implementation of cultural and, if necessary, chemical control measures, can help manage and mitigate the impact of diseases.

Common Pests

In addition to diseases, the butterfly bush may encounter pest infestations that can compromise its health and vitality. Some common pests that may affect the plant include:
Aphids: These small, soft-bodied insects feed on the sap of the plant, causing distortion of new growth and the presence of sticky honeydew. Natural predators and insecticidal soaps can help control aphid populations.

  • Spider Mites: Spider mites are tiny arachnids that can inflict damage by piercing leaf cells and extracting the contents, leading to stippled, discolored foliage. Regular spraying with water and the use of horticultural oils can aid in managing spider mite infestations.

Botanist’s Tips

As a plant scientist, I would like to offer some insightful tips for cultivating and caring for the butterfly bush. These tips can enhance the success and overall performance of the plant in various growing conditions.

  • Pollinator-Friendly Planting: Companion planting the butterfly bush with other nectar-rich, pollinator-friendly plants can create a dynamic and thriving ecosystem that attracts a diverse array of beneficial insects.

  • Seasonal Pruning: Adhering to a consistent pruning schedule, focusing on the removal of spent flowers and shaping the plant, can promote healthier growth and extended flowering periods.

  • Soil Amendment: Amending the soil with organic matter such as compost or well-rotted manure can enhance its fertility and structure, providing an optimal growing environment for the butterfly bush.

  • Watering Techniques: Watering the plant at the base, directly onto the soil, instead of overhead irrigation, can help prevent leaf diseases and promote efficient moisture uptake by the roots.

Fun Facts

The butterfly bush (Buddleja ‘Bicolor’) harbors some fascinating and noteworthy aspects that add to its allure and intrigue. Here are a few fun facts about this captivating plant:

  • Invasive Species: In some regions, particularly in North America, certain species of butterfly bush have been classified as invasive due to their prolific self-seeding and potential impact on native ecosystems.

  • Butterfly Attraction: The name “butterfly bush” is a testament to the plant’s remarkable ability to attract and support a multitude of butterfly species, creating a captivating spectacle in gardens and natural settings.

  • Fragrant Flowers: The delightful fragrance of the butterfly bush’s flowers not only appeals to humans but also serves as a potent lure for pollinators, contributing to the plant’s ecological significance.

Links to External Resources

For further information on butterfly bush (Buddleja ‘Bicolor’) cultivation, care, and related topics, the following external resources can provide valuable insights and guidance:

In conclusion, the butterfly bush (Buddleja ‘Bicolor’) stands as a captivating and invaluable addition to gardens, landscapes, and ecological habitats. With its vibrant flowers, pollinator attraction, and versatile uses, this plant continues to enchant and inspire enthusiasts and conservationists alike. By understanding and implementing the essential practices of cultivation, maintenance, and care, we can foster the growth and longevity of this enchanting species, perpetuating its beauty and ecological contributions for generations to come.

Picture of Peter Taylors

Peter Taylors

Expert botanist who loves plants. His expertise spans taxonomy, plant ecology, and ethnobotany. An advocate for plant conservation, he mentors and educates future botanists, leaving a lasting impact on the field.