Common Name: Butterfly Bush
Flowers: In heads, panicles or spikes (some very attractive). Mostly occurring in spring or summer.
Origin: Asia, Africa and Americas; around 100 species.
Appearance: Mostly evergreen shrubs, lanceolate leaves mostly opposite except in B. alternifolia, flowers are in heads as spikes or panicles.
Culture: Well-drained fertile soil, lime-tolerant; thrive in full sun, easy to grow. Prune long stems to stop them becoming straggly. Half-hardy species should be grown against a wall or in a greenhouse, or outdoors in mild temperate regions.
Propagation: Semi-hardwood cuttings 12-15cm long with heel in summer (respond to using growth hormone and bottom heat). B. davidii can be grown through 24-30cm hardwood cuttings in autumn.
Health: Hardy or half-hardy; may be prone to cucumber mosaic virus which distorts leaves.
Uses: Attractive flowering shrub; container plants require hard pruning and regular feeding in a large container to keep the plant looking neat and attractive. Some species used by indigenous peoples as a fish poison. Half-hardy species make good conservatory plants. Some species have been used for medicines, some are very good bee attractors; some flowers are scented. Most have silvery white undersides to foliage.
Pest & Disease: Some subject to leaf hopper, aphis or other insects. Spot spray only when problems occur.
Species & Varieties:
Approximately 100 species, including:
B. alternifolia -To 4m, fragrant lavender flowers, weeping foliage.
B. colvillei -To 7m tall, long clusters of rose flowers with white centre,
B. crispa -To 3m tall, long purple flower clusters.
B. Davidii (syn B. variabilis) -A woody open shrub with attractive sprays of butterfly attracting flowers. Flower colour can be white, cream, mauve, purple. Fragrant.
B. fallowiana -Grows 1m tall, blue grey foliage, white to lavender flowers.
B. globosa -To 4m tall, ball shaped flowers, different flower colours available.
B. madagascariensis -A tall weeping open shrub to 4m high, burnt yellow flowers with unpleasant scent.