The Butterfly Bush used to be a garden standard, and everyone loved how easy they were to grow, adored the big spikes of sweetly-scented flowers, and were thrilled by the swarms of different butterflies they attracted. If you live in colder zones you can still feel free to grow any of them, because winters are too cold for them to spread. But in many areas, especially the north-west, they have spread seeds into surrounding wild areas, and become a pest species. For many gardeners these plants are simply too attractive to give up, and people who plant to feed butterflies – thereby protecting local species – swear by them for an abundant supply of nectar all summer. So what to do?
After some years of work, the answer is now clear. Plant breeders have given us a whole new range of butterfly bushes that don’t produce seeds, so they are completely safe to grow anywhere – problem solved. The flower spikes are abundant, and the floral display is even more consistent, from late spring to first frost. Hardly any other garden plants – especially ones so easy to care for – come near that. One of the great things about the old varieties was the rich, deep shades of blue and purple they often came in – rare colors in the garden. So we really welcomed the Miss Violet Butterfly Bush when we first saw it – exactly that deep, rich blue-purple we have always loved – but this time on a plant that won’t seed and won’t spread. The stunning flower spikes just keep coming and coming, because the plant doesn’t waste energy making seeds.
Growing Miss Violet Butterfly Bushes
Use the Miss Violet Butterfly Bush as a specimen in a small shrub border, to bring endless color, or plant in groups in larger beds. It is great in planter boxes, and it makes a lovely flowering hedge too, hiding an old fence, bordering a driveway, or separating one part of the garden from another. Best of all, the fragrant blooms keep your garden filled with butterflies, to the delight of children (and adults too.)
The Miss Violet Butterfly Bush forms a lovely rounded shrub, reaching 4 or 5 feet tall, and the same across. It has a tendency to be a little wider than tall, giving it a solid ‘grounded’ look, and filling spaces in the garden nicely. The long, narrow leaves are spear-shaped, about 4 inches long and 1½ inches wide at their widest. They are an attractive green on the top, and a softer gray-green on the underside. The many branches have gray bark, and the whole plant has an attractive, open look, with many slender branches.
In spring the new shoots burst from the older stems, and by early summer each one has a flower cluster on the end of it. These are a full 7 inches long, slightly curved, and slender, about 1 inch wide at the base. Each one contains about 400 tiny flowers, with jewel-like brightly colored petals. The flowers begin to open at the base of the spike, and open upwards, as the spike expands. Each flower spike lasts about 10 days, and then gradually withers and fades away, falling off without being noticed, and being replaced by new shoots emerging from lower down the stem.
Planting and Initial Care
Plant this easy to grow shrub in full sun, in any type of well-drained soil. Since it is drought resistant when established, and likes hot, drier soils, it is great for those difficult dry places on sandy soil. Wet soils with lots of organic material in them might encourage winter damage and even loss of your shrub, so don’t coddle it, after the first few weeks of regular watering. This plant has no significant pests or diseases, and it is even deer resistant (but perhaps not immune, since deer are unpredictable). The only care needed is a spring pruning. Wait until the new shoots begin to appear, and then remove any dead branches, and thin, weak ones. Leave an open framework of stronger branches, cutting back to 2 or 3 feet tall. This plant is a compact grower, adding about 2 feet of new growth in a season, so you can control the size by pruning shorter or longer in spring.
History and Origin of the Miss Violet Butterfly Bush
The wild butterfly bush, Buddleja davidii, grows on rough and rocky ground in China and Tibet. These plants can grow to be 12 to 15 feet tall. Ever since it was brought to Europe in 1869 by the French missionary and naturalist Pere Armand David, breeders have been developing new forms with bright colors, so all the plants in gardens are hybrids. One of the most successful modern breeders is Dennis James Werner, a PhD professor of horticulture at North Carolina State University in Raleigh. In 2009 he cross-pollinated the Buddleja varieties ‘Miss Molly’ and ‘Blue Chip’, creating new hybrid seed. He grew these seedlings at his research nursery in Jackson Springs, and from the 95 plants he had, he chose the best one, which had a compact habit, large flower clusters and that beautiful blue-violet color. He called it ‘Miss Violet’ and patented his discovery in 2017, with the benefit going to the University to support further research into producing new garden plants.
All our plants are top-quality, produced under license from stem pieces to be exactly identical to that original selection. The demand for these new, safe butterfly bushes is enormous, as everyone is bringing this old favorite back into their gardens. Order now, as our stock will soon be gone.