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How to Keep Your Butterfly Bush Blooming

July 19, 2021
Written by Aaron

Butterfly bush, also known as summer lilacs, is a fast-growing flowering shrub perfect for pops of colour in your garden—and for attracting oodles of butterflies to your yard! With deceivingly delicate flowers, it is surprisingly hardy from zones 5 through 9. Sometimes, you may run into a few issues with them. If you’re asking yourself: why is my butterfly bush not blooming? Read our tips for caring for your butterfly bush in Ontario.


Best Butterfly Bush Varieties

There are plenty of varieties to choose from, depending on your needs. These different options boast various bloom colours, all of which pollinators adore. A few we would recommend are:

Pugster Butterfly Bush: The Pugster variety comes in many gorgeous hues including pink, white and blue. This dwarf version is perfect for smaller garden beds or creating some low-level visual interest in any landscape. 

Prince Charming Butterfly Bush: Get swept off your feet by planting this dashing variety. The Prince Charming has boastful, tall, bright pink clusters of honey-scented flowers: a fan favourite of many pollinators (and people).

Royal Red Butterfly Bush: This incredible magenta-red option can grow up to 6-8 feet tall, a real eye-catcher! A variety that loves full-sun, and with proper care, it’s perfect for using as fresh-cut flowers in your summer bouquets.

butterfly bush shrub Eising Garden Centre

Planting Butterfly Bushes

When it comes to planting your own butterfly bush, it’s best to do your planting in either spring or fall before your first frost. If you’re planting more than one shrub, make sure you space them 5-10 feet apart so they have plenty of space to grow and won’t be fighting for nutrients and sun. Choose a location that gets ample sunlight, and plant them in well-draining, nutrient-rich soil.

Caring for Butterfly Bushes

Butterfly bushes will do well in full or part-sun. The key to caring for butterfly bushes is to make sure it’s not getting over-watered. Overwatering will cause soggy, rotten roots. If you plant yours in nutrient-rich soil, you won’t need to do much fertilizing. In fact, too much fertilizing can cause the plant to direct energy into growing foliage and not the flowers.

butterfly bush blooming Eising Garden Centre

How to Keep Your Butterfly Bush Blooming

If you are asking yourself “why is my butterfly bush not blooming?” there could be a few culprits. Consider these tips for getting your butterfly bush blooming, or reblooming. 

You need to prune it back: The butterfly bushes’ blooms will only grow on new wood. An occasional, thorough haircut in early spring will entice it to grow back to its full glory. Many owners of deciduous shrubs are hesitant to prune back too much, but the butterfly bush loves it! New blooms will not grow on the branches of last year’s growth, so an early spring or late winter trim will allow you to shape the bush and promote new growth.

You need to deadhead it: Deadheading works very well when it comes to enticing new blooms on the butterfly bush. Once the blooms start to look dry and slightly withered, it starts to look a bit sad, and you can give the shrub a chance to push out another round of blooms with some thorough deadheading. Simply pinch just below the dried bloom, being careful not to pinch off new buds.

Check the growing conditions: Finally, be sure that your shrub is getting everything it needs from the sun, soil, and water. If your butterfly bush is not blooming, it could be under stress because of the growing conditions, or it could be overly fertilized with a nitrogen-rich fertilizer. Check to make sure the soil is moist but not soggy, and check the nursery tags to make sure that it’s getting the prescribed amount of sun.

butterfly bush Eising Garden Centre

Put the “Butterfly” back into “Butterfly Bush.” 

Although butterfly bushes attract adult butterflies, they don’t always have what it takes to nurture the caterpillars that turn into our beautiful pollinating friends. If you want your garden to become a real haven for butterflies, you can plant milkweed, dill, and aster. Then, you’ll have a paradise for the entire lifecycle of a butterfly. Bonus: planting species that caterpillars love will distract any from potentially munching on your butterfly bush!

If you’re just as excited as we are about this incredible shrub, come visit us to find out more about getting your own butterfly bush in Simcoe.

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