Planting buddleia: location & procedure in containers or beds


Those who plant the butterfly bush in the garden will be rewarded with magnificent, large flower panicles that attract a variety of butterflies and insects.

Flowering butterfly bush
The butterfly bush delights with its flower panicles from year to year [Photo: Vahan Abrahamyan/]

In late summer, the butterfly bush (Buddleja davidii) displays its lush flowers and beautifies the summer garden. It also attracts abundant insects and especially butterflies with its nectar. But the buddleia does not just look good in the garden – it can also be cultivated in containers.

When can you plant the butterfly bush?

The best time to plant buddleia is in spring, from March to October, after the last risk of frost has passed. Otherwise the young plants of the butterfly bush – even the hardy varieties – can suffer frost damage. Planted in spring, the butterfly bush has enough time to establish itself until winter and to survive the coming frosts well.

The right location for buddleia

In order to be able to enjoy a wonderfully fragrant flowering splendour, the right location is crucial.

Location in the bed

Butterfly bush prefers a warm and sunny location in the garden – by the way, the shrub is extremely heat tolerant. The soil should ideally be moderately dry, well-drained and humus-rich. On sites with fewer nutrients, you can enrich the excavated soil with compost or alternatively add an appropriate substrate. Our peat-free Plantura Organic Flower Compost provides ideal growing conditions and abundant flowering thanks to its nutrient composition and permeable structure.

Buddleia in the garden
The butterfly bush thrives best in a sunny and warm location [Photo: Wut_Moppie/]

Butterfly bush in the tub

If you want to brighten up the balcony or terrace, buddleias can also be cultivated in a planter. Normally, the butterfly bush reaches a height of up to 3 m in the garden. However, there are certain small-growing butterfly bush varieties that are suitable for container culture. A suitable location for the butterfly bush as a container plant is a bright, sunny and warm spot. Even with smaller varieties, the butterfly bush in the pot needs a depth and diameter of at least 40 cm. Ideally, plant your buddleia in a clay or ceramic plant pot so that the roots do not heat up. Our Plantura Organic Flower Compost is also ideal as a substrate for the butterfly bush. A drainage layer of, for example, expanded clay at the bottom of the pot prevents waterlogging and provides the ornamental perennial with optimal growing conditions.

Organic Flower Compost, 40L
Organic Flower Compost, 40L
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  • Perfect for all flowering plants in garden beds & pots
  • For beautiful blossoms & healthy plant growth
  • Peat-free & organic soil: CO2-saving composition

How to plant the butterfly bush

Many varieties can grow very large and require sufficient space as a single plant – ask about the individual space requirements when buying the respective variety. When planting, proceed as follows:

  • Select a suitable location
  • Carefully prise out the root ball with a spade and slowly lift it out of the pot
  • Dig a sufficiently large planting hole that is twice the size of the root ball
  • Add some nutrient-rich substrate to the excavated material
  • Plant the butterfly bush just as deep as it was in the pot and tread the soil well around it
  • Water the entire area carefully and abundantly
  • Subsequently, take regular care of the butterfly bush
Butterfly on buddleia
The fragrant and colourful flowers attract many insects every year [Photo: Milan68/]

Transplanting butterfly bush

If you want to offer the buddleia a new location, make sure it is the right time of year to avoid lasting damage. Buddleja davidii should not be resprouting or flowering at this time – so butterfly bushes should be transplanted either between September and October or between February and April. The summer months are not suitable, as the energy put into flower formation would be taken up by transplanting. Before transplanting, cut back the butterfly bush – shorten the woody plant to two-thirds to create a balanced relationship between roots and crown.

Tip: Butterfly bushes can also be propagated easily and in various ways. Read more about this in our practical article on the subject of propagating butterfly bushes.

Accompanying plants: combining the butterfly bush

The pretty buddleia looks beautiful both in a solitary position and as a hedge plant. In addition, the colourful ornamental shrub can be combined with these flowering perennials:

Buddleia compantion plants
Beautiful contrasts can be created with yellow-flowering perennials [Photo: Peter Turner Photography/]

The sea lavender genera (Limonium and Goniolimon) are not related to buddleia, but produce equally beautiful flowers in a wide range of colours and are relatively undemanding in terms of care.

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