We’ve all seen the beautiful site a Butterfly Bush can be in the summer. With its conical purple flowers springing outward, attracting dozens of butterflies that flit around it quite quaintly, no one would ever think that this plant is causing a big problem!
Butterfly Bush or ‘Buddleja davidii’ are an invasive species of deciduous shrubs that originate from central China. Growing up to 15’ tall, it blooms from mid-summer to early fall.
Butterfly Bush is excellent at reproduction, giving it an advantage over our native flowering shrubs and crowding them out. Each flower spike on the plant releases over 40,000 seeds. These light weight seeds travel far by way of water or wind with a +80% germination rate!
And while butterflies love all the nectar produced by the copious flowers, that nectar is only feeding the butterflies during one part of their life cycle. The Butterfly Bush does not play host to any of our native insects! Meaning our native butterflies cannot lay their eggs on it and the caterpillars cannot eat the plant.
That’s not to say this shrub doesn’t play hosts to ANY insects. The hated and invasive stink bug loves these shrubs and uses them to host their larvae and spread their numbers.
If you have a butterfly bush in your garden, consider replacing it with a beautiful native shrub, or at least a non-invasive variant, that will play a true host to our native butterflies
Janet Douberly attracts dozens of butterflies at Downtown Greens.
This article was originally published in the August 2023 edition of Front Porch Magazine. Use the button below to see the full edition.