Newest Review: ... to cope well with a lot of shade. You might think there must be some drawback to this useful, easy-growing, flowering plant - and unf... more
Member Name: zombieflesh
Advantages: lovely delicate flowers, range of colours, easy to care for, attracts butterflies and other insects
Disadvantages: can grow to huge sizes and plant itself in unwanted places
I'm not the world's keenest gardener but I am trying to get into the habit of nurturing my garden and helping it on it's way a little. One of the main features at the side of our lawn is a giant Buddleia plant, better known by the common name of "butterfly bush". This is a large leafy bush that produces chunky heads of flowers that are made up of many, many tiny buds. Our butterfly bush is a lovely deep shade of violet, although they range from pure white, to pink, to blue as well. Most of these plants in our local area have blue or lilac colour flowers so I feel quite lucky to have a royal purple one!
The bush itself is a self-sufficient hardy individual. It was already well settled in its place when I moved into my house a few years back. It has a thick trunk that branches off into many smaller but long branches. The whole thing must be at least 8' tall, and it grows at an extremely rapid rate. The plant requires little care, and other than some essential pruning I do not touch it at all throughout the year. It is a newbie gardener's dream, as you are given a display of lovely bright coloured long lasting flowers and no effort required at all on your part.
Because of the speed with which this plant can grow, it can quickly take over your garden if you are not very attentive with the pruning shears. The branches are thick but lightweight and are very easy to cut through. The plant should flower all through the summer and autumn months, but after that you should take control of it. The best way to treat it is to wait until the flowers have died off, and then really hack it back. Last year I cut it down to about 3' tall, chopped off branches here there and everywhere, and this year it has grown back strongly and shot up another 5' high! I will not be quite so timid when pruning it again this year, and I think it will benefit from a good cutting back to remove dead wood and promote flowers next year. Apparently the flowers will only stem from new growth, so it will enable you to get the best floral display if you are harsh when it needs cutting.
Aside from the pretty delicate flowers, the best thing about this plant is that it attracts butterflies, hence the name of butterfly bush. We are trying to encourage wildlife into our garden, and have made a few simple changes like planting flowers that will attract bees and other insects. We have also stopped mowing the edge of the lawn so that longer grass can continue to grow there, which has had an instant effect and we have spotted beetles, crickets, and grasshoppers over the summer. Butterflies are drawn to this plant and we often see them fluttering around the garden, then landing to feed upon the nectar from the flowers. This creates a wonderful atmosphere and we are happy to encourage a bit of bio-diversity in our tiny patch of land.
The negative side of this plant is that it can seed itself easily. I have had buddleias sprouting up in my lawn, my flower beds, and one was even growing through the roof into my attic requiring some building work to be done to repair it! Catch them when they're small and they are easy to pull up, but they can grow out of control very quickly and this can cause problems if it's now grown where you want it to.
The butterfly bush is a gorgeous plant with beautiful flowers that is wonderful for people with little time who still want to enjoy an attractive garden. As long as you ensure to give it a good cropping every year and keep the size in check you should not have any problems.
Summary: Perfect for gardeners with little time or experience
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