Easily grown in average, medium moisture, well-drained soils in full sun. Becomes weedy and sparse with diminished flowering performance if not grown in full sun. Does poorly in wet conditions. In USDA Zones 5 and 6, this plant will often die to the ground in winter and therefore is often grown therein in the manner of an herbaceous perennial. Even if plants do not die to the ground in winter, they usually grow more vigorously, produce superior flowers and maintain a better shape if cut close to the ground in late winter each year. Removal of spent flower spikes during the growing season may encourage additional bloom.
Buddleja davidii, commonly called butterfly bush, is a deciduous shrub that is native to thickets on mountain slopes, limestone outcrops, forest clearings and rocky stream banks in China. It typically grows to 6-12’ (less frequently to 15’) tall with a spread to 4-15’ wide when not killed back by cold winter temperatures. It is noted for its bushy habit, arching stems, showy/fragrant flowers and vigorous growth. It has escaped gardens and naturalized in the eastern U. S. plus Washington, Oregon, California and Hawaii. It has been declared a noxious weed in Oregon and Washington. Aggressive spreading has been observed in a number of eastern states including Pennsylvania, New Jersey, West Virginia, Kentucky and North Carolina.
Spike-like terminal and axillary flower clusters bloom from early to late summer, sometimes to first frost. Flowers are densely clustered in showy cone-shaped panicles from 6-18” long. In the wild, straight species flowers are lilac to purple with orange-yellow throats. Numerous named cultivars have been introduced over the years, expanding the range of flower colors to include pinks, yellows, whites and reds. Flowers (each to ½” long) are mildly fragrant, and, as the common name suggests, very attractive to butterflies. Flowers are also very attractive to hummingbirds and bees. Flowers give way to two-valved seed capsules that split open when ripe (about 50 seeds per capsule). Finely toothed, elliptic to lanceolate leaves (6-10” long) taper to long points. Leaves are sage green above and white tomentose beneath.
The genus name is frequently listed today as Buddleia. However, Linnaeus named the genus Buddleja (pronounced with a silent “j”) which is still considered to be the proper spelling (first name survives) according to the International Code of Botanical Nomenclature.
Genus name honors the Reverend Adam Buddle (1662-1715), English botanist.
Specific epithet honors Pere Armand David (1826-1900), French missionary and naturalist, who found this species growing in China in 1869/1870 along the border of China and Tibet.
ADONIS BLUE is a dwarf butterfly bush that has been introduced into commerce as part of the English Butterfly Series developed by Elizabeth Keep of East Malling, England. Plants in this series (see also PEACOCK and PURPLE EMPEROR) are noted for producing large flower clusters on dense, well-branched shrubs that are 1/2 to 1/3 the size of typical B. davidii plants. ADONIS BLUE is an upright shrub that grows to 3-5’ tall and as wide. Spike-like terminal and axillary clusters (to 8-10” long) of dark blue flowers bloom from June to September and sometimes to first frost. Flowers are mildly fragrant, and, as the common name suggests, very attractive to butterflies. Willowy, elliptic, medium green leaves with serrate margins are slightly glossy.
No serious insect or disease problems.
A small buddleia for a compact corner of the landscape. Provides attractive summer to early fall flowers when few other shrubs are in bloom. Grow in borders, cottage gardens, rose gardens or butterfly gardens. Usually does not make a good single specimen shrub. Popular fresh cut flower.