Of the many pleasures found in gardening, none is probably greater than encouraging wildlife. Interesting to observe and vital for pollination, insects can be fascinating and, in the case of the butterfly, beautiful visitors. As Nathan James Dodd explains, one plant - the Buddleia - is superb at attracting these wonderful creatures.
Undoubtedly, butterflies with their multi-coloured wings and dancing flight are among the most beautiful of our summer visitors. If you want to attract these lovely creatures into your garden, you need just to do one thing - plant a butterfly bush, or given is correct name, a ‘Buddleia Davidii’.
A Buddleia in full colour, is a spectacular sight. Its fragrant 18 inch flower spikes are often covered with butterflies. The bush acts as a magnet, pulling in the insects to enjoy a feast of nectar. All of the commonest varieties of butterfly, including such beauties as the peacock, tortoise shell and the red admiral, will be attracted, as well as some of the rarer kinds, like the sunshine yellow brimstone and the comma, with its lacey edged wings.
Growing a Buddleia
The shrub can be planted at any time of the year, provided contained grown plants are bought. Choose a site in full sun or partial shade, and water the plant well in dry conditions until it is established. Although in time a Buddleia will reach 12 feet or more, a hard prune in March, removing all the previous year’s growth from the base will keep the shrub compact, enducing it to produce new shoots, and because flowers are only borne on new growth, more flowers.
There are many varieties of Buddleia to choose from, in a wide range of colours. Some of the best include ‘Royal Red’, with purple red flowers or its variegated form, which has the bonus of white edged leaves. ‘White Profusion’ has gorgeous snowy white flowers, while Black Knight's are deep purple, velvet-like.
Buddleias are easily grown and suffer little damage from pests and diseases. So why not plant one this year, and wait for the beautiful butterflies to gather round this king among shrubs?