If you’d like gorgeous garden colour from mid-Summer through to Autumn, the showy blooms of the buddleja offer one of the best displays available.
When you think of buddleja, you could be forgiven for thinking of large, wild untamed plants which need a big space – but you need to think again, because around 15 compact and mini cultivars have been introduced in recent years – so now they’re not only great for beds and borders, they’re excellent for patio pots and containers too!
Regardless of their size, these shrubs have a bushy habit and are reliable and hardy and, whichever variety you choose, you’ll be sure to enjoy a wonderful, visual feast. But this isn’t the only feast they provide, as they also offer an actual feast which is invaluable for our nectar-hungry butterflies – and we know what a vital role they play in pollinating our lovely plants!
Planting Tips & Propagation
Container-grown plants are strong enough to be planted at any time of the year and you should ideally choose a sunny position, with moist, well-drained soil.
Dig a planting hole no deeper than the roots (to ensure your plant sits at the same depth as it was in its pot) and roughly three times as wide as your pot. Tap the plant out of the pot, gently tease out the roots and place in your hole. Mix well-rotted manure or compost in with the soil from the hole, refill with this mixture, and then simply firm the soil gently with your heel to remove and air pockets – finally, water well.
As with all new plantings, check your buddleja regularly and water as necessary in dry spells until your plant becomes established.
If you want to propagate buddleja, then take softwood cuttings in late Spring just as the stems begin to harden a little. Look for new shoots about 15cm/6in long, trim them below the leaf node and nip out the top. Then remove any over-large leaves, dip the base of the cutting into hormone rooting powder and insert into a pot filled with a 50% compost and 50% horticultural sand mix. Water and cover with polythene or glass and the cuttings will quickly take root.
Pruning & Care
Looking after buddleja is as easy as one, two, three…
- Dead-head the flowers as they fade to encourage a continuous supply of new blooms, and remove every spent flower at the end of the year to prevent the spread of unwanted seedlings.
- Top dress with manure in Autumn or use organic feed in late Spring to increase the number of flowers.
- Depending on the variety, buddleja can put on a phenomenal amount of growth in a season, but it’s easy to control the size of your plant with regular pruning. Regardless of the variety, this should be done in late Spring when the hardest Winter weather has passed – simply prune back to remove all of the previous years’ growth to three or four buds.
Buddleja are striking enough on their own and make excellent specimen plants, but they also benefit from companions too – here are our suggestions:
- Silvery foliage buddleja mingle well with other silver foliage plants, such as lavender and nepeta and the silvery white leaves of stachys.
- Dark flowered forms look good planted with paler companions such as the delicate daisy flowers of anthemis.
- A good contrast for pink flowering buddleja are darker flowered plants such a red scabious.
- All buddleja flowers have an orange ‘eye’ – pick this out with orange flowering crocosmia or dahlias.
Although buddleja originates from China, it is the best plant for attracting and sustaining British butterflies. But to ensure a good supply of nectar flows in your garden from Spring through to Autumn, it’s a good idea to include other nectar-rich plants in your planting scheme – here are a few of our suggestions:
- Echinops (globe thistle)
Now you have all the information you need to choose and care for your buddleja, so visit us in-store to select from the great range we have available – and create your own beautiful buddleja heaven!