The Blue Heaven Butterfly Bush is a beautiful small shrub loved by both gardeners, butterflies and children too. This is a much-improved form of the older types of butterfly bush, which although attractive, have many faults. This new shrub stays small and compact, around 2 feet tall, and the same size across. It does not grow tall, and shoot out in all directions, as older plants do. It flowers continuously from early summer to frost, and is it always covered in beautiful violet-blue flower clusters. Best of all, these flowers are sterile, and produce no seeds, so they fade away naturally, and do not need to be removed. They cannot seed in the wild, and become invasive, as has happened with this plant in some parts of the country. This means it can be grown freely even in states that have banned the sale of older types of butterfly bush.
The Blue Heaven Butterfly Bush has narrow leaves 1½ inches long, that are silver-green in color, and covered in fine hairs, which gives them a fuzzy texture. The slender stems grow upright, and branch frequently to create a bushy, upright plant with no special trimming required. Starting in early summer clusters of flowers are produced at the ends of the stems, and on short stems that grow from the place where the leaves meet the stems. These clusters are cone-shaped, about 2 inches long, and they contain many tiny flowers, each with violet-blue petals and a deep orange center. The flowers have a soft, delicious smell of honey. They attract butterflies from all around, of all sizes. Growing these plants is a great way to encourage local populations of butterflies in your area. The appearance of your plants covered with these beautiful insects is a joy to see, and children love to watch the butterflies coming and going, feeding on the sweet nectar of this plant. This plant will flower continuously from early summer to the first hard frost, as new bloom clusters appear continuously as the plant grows. Old clusters will wither and die, and they do not need to be removed to keep your bush flowering and flowering continuously. You will even be able to see varied species of butterflies visit, as the summer and fall proceed, and as these beautiful insects keep feeding from your bush.
The Blue Heaven Butterfly Bush is easy to grow. Plant it in a sunny spot, in ordinary to dry soil. It will quickly become established, and then it is drought resistant and very easy to grow. Just water occasionally during very dry periods, but unlike other plants you do not need to fuss over this tough, hardy plant. It is hardy throughout zone 5, and in all the warmest zones – no garden is too hot for this great plant. In early spring, trim it by removing any weak, thin branches, and shortening back the remaining ones to just above a pair of buds. It will very quickly shoot out, and before long it will be covered in blooms again.
The Blue Heaven Butterfly Bush is the product of a special breeding program at Cornell University. Wanting to replace existing older varieties that seed and invade wild areas, Dr. Peter Podaras developed several new plants, all collected together under the name ‘Flutterby Petite®’. There are several different colors in this series, and Blue Heaven is the stand-out blue variety – always a favorite color in butterfly bushes. These plants were produced by crossing two species together – Buddleja davidii and Buddleja alternifolia.
The first of these parent plants originally grew wild in Sichuan and Hubei provinces in central China, and also in Japan. It was introduced to Europe in the 1890s, and many different colored forms were developed from it. Soon it was being grown in America too. In recent years it has become a problem, invading natural areas and restricting the growth of native plants. Some states now do not allow its sale. The second parent, Buddleja alternifolia, is much rarer in American gardens, and is a large shrub growing originally in Gansu province, in north-western China. The name ‘Buddleja’ is also sometimes spelt ‘Buddleia’, and as well as being called ‘butterfly bush’, these plants are also called ‘nectar bush’, because of all the nectar produced for the butterflies.
Dr. Podaras grew many seedlings from his crosses, and from seed produced by those hybrid plants too. From all these plants he selected a few for their outstanding qualities. He was particularly interested in plants that would grow well in gardens, that bloomed continuously, and that were sterile, so they could not produce seed and escape into the wild. In 2011 Dr. Podaras and Cornell University were granted a patent on this new plant, in recognition of its worth. Our plants are produced under license, and are guaranteed to be this very special plant, so avoid other unnamed butterfly bushes, which will be nothing like this plant at all. For other beautiful butterfly bush varieties, including more sterile forms that cannot spread, and can be sold as ‘nectar bush’ in Oregon & Washington states, see the Tree Center listing under ‘Butterfly Bush’.
With the development of these new, non-invasive forms of an always-popular plant, there is renewed interest in growing them. We know that our limited stock of this terrific plant will soon be sold out. Order now to bring beautiful blue flowers, and lots of lovely butterflies, into your garden.