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Butterfly Bush Pruning

September 1, 2021


timely pruning

Butterfly bushes do not need to be pruned every year. In fact, you only need to prune them when they get too large for the space allotted. 

New Growth

But since butterfly bushes only bloom on new growth, many gardeners prune them severely each spring to encourage lots of new growth and lots of flowers.

Butterfly Bush
Butterfly Bush

spring pruning

You are safe to prune it in the spring. Avoid pruning in the fall and winter. The reason is, the stems are hollow and any water that accumulates in the stem and subsequently freezes will cause the wood to split. That’s not a good thing. As long as you have plenty of sunlight, you’ll get lots of blooms throughout the summer by pruning in the spring.

Hard Pruning Guide

Cut back all of the woody stalks by about two-thirds in early spring and remove any weak shoots sprouting from the ground. This hard pruning encourages stronger growth at the base of the plant, producing new shoots with flowers developing at their tips throughout the summer.


pruning buddleia

In the fall, prune away all of the tips to remove any faded flowers and developing seeds. In some areas, buddleia has become an invasive pest. Deadheading and removing the spent flowers before they go to seed is an important step in reducing the chances of butterfly bushes escaping from the garden and into the surrounding fields and woodlands.

Give Them Time

It takes some time for your butterfly bush to flourish each year, so give them adequate time to bounce back in the spring.

A fertilizer application in March or April and again in June or July will help to encourage growth. A generous helping of compost or all-purpose organic fertilizer is recommended.  If you’re inclined to use synthetic products, a tablespoon of 10-10-10 for each foot of height is appropriate. Sprinkle it around the shrub out to the drip line, but no more.

miss molly buddleia