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Planting Buddleia Plants | Butterfly Bushes

Dig holes 8 to 14 inches wide and approximately 12 to 14 inches deep, or at least 2 times larger than the container the plants arrived in. Pour water into the hole until it is about 2 inches deep in the hole. Allow the water to be soaked into the soil. While water is being soaked in, tap the container bottom on the ground and cupping the base of the plant and top of container with one hand, tip the container completely over. Gently pry the plants root system out of the pot.

Holding the root system, with soil, in both hands firmly, gently pull the bottom of the root system as though to tear the bottom apart. Don’t pull the root system apart, only loosen it up and allow the roots to stretch. Sometimes newly grown roots will twist and turn in the pot, just comb through them with your fingers to straighten them out. Hold the plant steady at the base of the trunk slightly above the ground level over the hole. Begin pulling soil into the hole to fill in the areas around the root system of the plant lightly pressing with every few inches.

Once the hole is filled with soil around the root system, water the plant again about the same amount as it took to fill up to 2 inches of the hole. (Water amount will vary with conditions) The soil around the base of the plant may sink in and you will need to apply more soil and lightly press down. Then apply 2 to 3 inches of shredded bark mulch or aged compost mix forming a well or doughnut around the base of each plant.

For the first month, water plant every 2 to 3 days adjusting for deep rainfall days. Gradually phase into watering less and less allowing the plant to stress for itself to find moisture. You will need to water more frequently during the hottest part of summer, especially during drought conditions. It takes approximately 3 to 6 weeks for container plants to establish and begin putting on newer roots.

Buddleias can be planted in full to partial sun with 4 to 8 foot spacing. They generally look best in groupings of 3 to 5 plants. Alkaline soil (pH 6.5 to 7.0) is usually preferred.

Fertilize in spring with a slow release general fertilizer. Deadheading them will keep the plants blooming longer during the season.

Buddleias can be cut back nearly to the ground in winter in cooler areas such as zone 6 and north. Colder winters in zone 7 may also require cutting back to the lower plant. As they age, you may find yourself with more of a small shrub that can be pruned in winter.

One of the most common problems that buddleias experience is spider mites, which can be handled with regular (monthly) spraying of a miticide. Check for spider mites by taking a piece of plain white paper and placing it under several of the branches/leaves, tap the higher branches. If you see tiny red/rust colored spots on the paper, the plant is infected. 

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