Magazine article Landscape & Irrigation

Buddleja Davidii-Butterfly Bush, Summer Lilac

Magazine article Landscape & Irrigation

Buddleja Davidii-Butterfly Bush, Summer Lilac

Article excerpt

AS late summer approaches and the heat shrinks the will of weaker shrubs, Buddleja davidii is just coming into its own. The more than 100 species of buddleja are distinguished by variables such as the length of their inflorescence, flower color and fragrance. The most popular species for ornamental use is davidii, named for the French missionary who discovered it. Common names include the butterfly bush for its attractiveness to these colorful garden embellishments and summer lilac for its flowers' visual and aromatic resemblance to small lilacs. Buddleja davidii serves as a lovely foundation plant in any garden, but particularly those where dependable color is appreciated.

Native to China, this hardy semi-evergreen or deciduous garden staple is comfortable in Western Garden zones 2-24 and H1. Although susceptible to frost, it nevertheless always rebounds in the spring with considerable vigor. Should a specimen escape winter chills unscathed, wisdom dictates a heavy pruning to approximately one foot. This encourages healthy new growth and increased flower production as blooms develop only on new wood. Rapid development in the spring brings focus to the attractive foliage. Lanceolate leaves vary considerably in size from 4 to more than 12 inches in length and are medium to dark green above and silvery and soft below. Leaf width may be 1/8 inch to more than 3 inches. Although consistent watering proves crucial in the early stages, Buddleja davidii becomes drought tolerant over time. Tending toward sun worship, it will nevertheless accept partial shade. It favors good drainage, making it well-suited to difficult rocky soils and hillsides. While appealing to butterflies and hummingbirds, the more destructive deer finds it distasteful. Buddleja davidii has a reputation for being a reliable color generator that pairs well in terms of form and hue with abelia, lantana and zinnias. …

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