Butterfly bushes are a favorite among many gardeners. The showy, fragrant blooms attract all sorts of beneficial insects to your garden. You may even find a hummingbird or two stopping by to enjoy the nectar inside the tiny flowers.
When and how to prune a butterfly bush is a topic that comes up quite a bit with our readers. Butterfly bushes are crazy fast growers. They can easily grow up to 12 feet in only one or two growing seasons. Cutting them back is perfectly safe and something we do routinely.
When should I prune my butterfly bush?
If you’re a seasoned follower of this blog, you’ll already know what I’m about to say. The answer is…..ANYTIME! You should prune your butterfly bush when it needs to be pruned. Don’t let the calendar dictate when you need to prune. If your butterfly bush is getting scraggly or out of control, prune it- no matter what time of year it is.
The butterfly bush pictured above is one year old. Its a bit on the scraggly side. Cutting it back about halfway will do wonders to help it branch out. A little pruning will help encourage fuller and more dense growth.
I would also recommend moving this bush to a different location. Butterfly bushes are fast growers, and the small area next to the sidewalk is not enough space to contain it. It will need constant pruning to keep it from growing over the walkway.
What about big butterfly bushes?
This butterfly bush (above) is only about 2 years old. It has grown beautifully, but now that summer is coming to an end, its starting to outgrow its space. These plants are tough as nails. It won’t hurt it one bit to be trimmed down low.
Butterfly bushes die back each winter. When spring comes they begin to grow back and bloom on new wood. You don’t have to prune your butterfly bushes every year, but its common practice to cut butterfly bushes very low each winter to encourage lots of new flowers next spring on the new growth.
Although winter is still a few months away, we were ready to cut this bush back. So we did. Butterfly bushes are forgiving plants. They will come back and look like a million bucks next spring.
How low can I prune my butterfly bush?
This is that same butterfly bush. We trimmed to under 12 inches.
Should I deadhead my butterfly bush?
Butterfly bushes require very little maintenance. Clipping off spent blooms will help encourage new blossoms. Its not a necessity, but it helps your plant look nicer.
Its best not to let the plant go to seed. Because butterfly bushes are hybrids, you’ll often find that the seedlings look weedy. You can avoid those weedy spreaders, by deadheading your spent blooms.
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