Buddleja davidii

Family: Scrophulariaceae

Countries: China, Japan

If you love butterflies, bees, hoverflies, and other pollinating insects, then you’ll love growing Buddleja davidii, as this shrub is a magnet to these wonderful creatures!  If you’ve not grown Buddleja before, this vigorous shrub is perhaps easier to care for and taller growing than you might expect.  This said, you can prune your plant to keep it in shape and restrict its size a little, and if you’d prefer to grow a smaller, more compact variety, there are many new compact Buddleja varieties that have been released over the past five years or so.

Buddleja davidii is a deciduous shrub, it flourishes in any soil, apart from waterlogged soils – well drained soil is always best for this plant.  Buddleja davidii is a drought resistant shrub that can also cope with poor soil, or a seaside location, this really is a very easy going plant!

If you’re thinking of growing Buddleja davidii, choose a sunny or partially shaded spot.  You’ll see more butterflies on your Buddleja, if you select a really bright, sunny position for your plant.  Ensure that the space you have available can accommodate your plant and allows room for you, or your gardener, to access your plant for pruning and maintenance.  Buddleha davidii vary a little from plant to plant, the soil the plants are grown in and their location will affect their overall size, as will their pruning – plants can easily grow up to 4m (13ft), or more if they’re left unchecked.

My Buddleja davidii plant grows to about 1.75m -6ft (5.7-6.5ft), but my plant would grow much taller if I let it!  Buddleja davidii flowers on the current year’s growth, so each March my plant is cut back to about 30cm (0.9ft).  If you live in a colder region of the country, you may want to hold off pruning your plant until April.  If you’re lucky enough to have room to grow a number of Buddleja davidii plants, you may want to prune some plants in March, some in April, and a couple in May, to create a staggered flowering, or you may prefer to prune all of your plants at the same time to create a show-stopping display!  Don’t forget that if you deadhead your plants they will re-flower within a week or two.

Buddleja davidii stems can be quite thick, so if you’re pruning this shrub then you’ll need a pruning saw, loppers, and secateurs to prune Buddleja davidii once your plants are a couple of years old and older.  You may only need a pair of secateurs for new plants, but it’s always better to be over prepared than under, and by putting less strain on your tools, you’ll be kinder to your plants, your tools, and yourself.

When pruning Buddleja davidii, you may want to first prune your plant back to a more manageable height, so you can more clearly see what you’re dealing with, this will give you the opportunity of examining your plant’s framework and shape more easily.  I’d advise removing any dead wood first, then examine your plant’s framework and remove any stems that are crossing over each other or rubbing.  Look to see if you can spot any buds on your plant’s stems, and where possible prune to an outward facing bud: this will help to give your plant a more pleasing shape and will encourage healthy growth.  Don’t worry too much if you cannot see any buds, just prune your plant to remove any over crossing stems and dead wood, and then cut the remaining stems back to around 30cm (0.9ft).

Buddleja davidii flowers go over more quickly than you might expect, usually fading within a couple of weeks or so, don’t be put off by this – the quicker you deadhead your plant, the better it will re-flower.  Following on from your deadheading, the continuing flowers your plant will produce will be smaller in size, but they’ll be no less welcome or appreciated by butterflies, bees, hoverflies, other pollinating insects, and gardeners!

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