Should I cut back this butterfly bush?

wilsocnMarch 14, 2012

I bought this little plant last fall at a local Kroger and it bloomed for a while and eventually dropped a lot of its leaves and then there was new growth. Almost everything you see on this plant at this point was growth from last fall.

I have read that it is best to cut them back in the spring to promote new growth. I have read some sites that say you can cut it back to the ground and other that say to about 10"

I am not sure if you can tell from the bad photo but the longest branches on this plant are only about 12-15" long at this point. Should I still cut it back and if so, how should I go about it?

Any advise on how to care it would be appreciated. I did give it a general purpose fertilizer today.


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lisa2004(NY Z5/6)

I didn't cut mine back the first year. By the second season it had grown several feet and then I cut it back to about 12-18". This is now the fourth year and I'm hacking away at it like crazy! It gets huge with many stems and branches. I don't think it matters so much what you do at this point, they are pretty tough. If I were you, I'd leave it alone until this time next year.

    Bookmark   March 15, 2012 at 9:37AM
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GrapeSocks(5b (NE IL))

Lisa is right; these plants are tough. Mine dies back to the ground every winter; it gets cut back to about 5 inches in late winter. As soon as the weather warms up, it takes off. It's hard to tell for sure, but if that's a dead branch, you can cut it back to new growth.

    Bookmark   March 15, 2012 at 12:22PM
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Thanks for the replies. Those branches are odd looking to me too. I think I will leave it alone with the exception of that bare limb. Ill just give that one a haircut and see what happens. Cant wait for this thing to bloom again because it both looked and smelled great last year.

    Bookmark   March 15, 2012 at 12:32PM
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Sara Malone Zone 9b

You can mow them with a lawn mower and they will come back! Very tough plant if it is Buddleia davidii. Here they are evergreen and they will take over unless cut back hard (to the ground) every spring. Yours is small so you can go easy on it now but be prepared to show it who's boss!

Here is a link that might be useful: Form and Foliage

    Bookmark   March 15, 2012 at 12:53PM
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ha cant wait!

    Bookmark   March 15, 2012 at 2:06PM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

they die consistently for me in z5 ...

you might want to take that z9 advice with a grain of salt or two ...


    Bookmark   March 15, 2012 at 6:41PM
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Sara Malone Zone 9b

Ken maybe a ton or two! I didn't weigh in until the 5b and the 5/6 noted how tough they were, and the OP is zone 6. I actually think they are miserable shrubs here because they are so vigorous they seem to take over the world. But the best advice is from similar climes, so thanks for reining me in.

    Bookmark   March 15, 2012 at 8:13PM
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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL(8B AL)

Since it's clearly alive, I can't imagine there's any danger of trimming. It looks like there are 2 (live) tall branches sticking up much higher. Unless those 2 are very sturdy, I would cut them back, just above the lower growing nodes on those branches. If they are at all floppy, they won't be able to support all of the growth they will produce, and start to lean far away from the center. If it's just leaning over another part of the bed, that might be OK, but if it's going to lean into the yard, that could get annoying.

If you are going to trim any live parts, I would do it soon before the plant wastes energy on those parts. The bonus is that the trimmed parts are extremely likely to grow if you keep them moist-not-soggy, mostly shady (until you notice new signs of growth.) With most cuttings, it's necessary to remove most of the foliage but I don't find that to be necessary for Buddleia cuttings.

    Bookmark   March 27, 2012 at 3:01PM
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