Butterfly Bush Varieties: Kinds Of Butterfly Bushes To Grow

Purple Flowered Butterfly Bush Full Of Butterflies
(Image credit: ZAKmac)

Of the hundreds of kinds of butterfly bushes in the world, most butterfly bush varieties available in commerce are variations of Buddleia davidii. These shrubs grow to 20 feet (6 m.) tall. They are amazingly tough, hardy to minus 20 degrees F. (-28 C.), yet tolerant of far warmer climates. This makes them attractive garden plants in cold, medium, and warm zones, so there are butterfly bush varieties that would work well in nearly any region. For more information on different kinds of butterfly bushes, read on.

Types of Butterfly Bushes for Cool Climates

If you live somewhere that gets winter frost and temperatures get into “minus” territory, you can still plant selected butterfly bush types. Although butterfly bushes are evergreen in warmer climes, in cool areas they die back in fall, then regrow rapidly in spring. Pick from among the cold-hardy types of butterfly bushes according to the height that pleases you. You can also choose different butterfly bushes by flower color; blossom hues range from dark purple through pink to white. For example, the very darkest butterfly bush flowers are found on the variety ‘Black Night,’ an open-structured shrub that grows to 15 feet (4.5 m.) tall. For maroon blossoms on a compact shrub, consider ‘Royal Red.’ It doesn’t grow past 6 feet (2 m.). If butterfly bush types with purple flowers intrigue you, look for ‘Purple Ice Delight,’ a dense shrub that gets 8 feet (2.5 m.) high and offers dark flowers with touches of pink. For more pink, look at Pink Delight, offering bright pink blossoms on its 8 foot (2.5 m.) stems. Some hybrid butterfly bush varieties offer gold flowers. Try ‘Sungold’ (Buddleia x weyeriana). It also tops out at about 8 feet (2.5 m.) high, but its branches fill with myriad pom-pom blossoms of deep gold.

Butterfly Bush Varieties for Warmer Regions

Some butterfly bushes grow well in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 7 through 10. In these zones, the different butterfly bushes are evergreen and retain their leaves all winter long. Consider ‘Lochinich’ for its lovely silver-backed leaves and pale lavender flowers. If fragrance is important to you, consider Buddleia asiatica. This tall shrub grows to 15 feet (2.5 m.) and offers white flowers with a scent so sweet and powerful that you can smell it from across the yard. Or choose ‘Himalayan’ butterfly bush with its soft, gray, velvety foliage. The tiny lilac flowers wink at you with orange eyes. If you want a butterfly bush with large, white flowers, go for White Profusion that grows up to zone 10. Its white flower clusters are enormous and the bush itself rises to 10 feet (3 m.). For short or dwarf bushes, try dwarf shrub 'Ellen's Blue' that only grows to four feet (1 m.) tall, or ‘Summer Beauty,” about the same size but offering rose-pink flower clusters.

Noninvasive Butterfly Bush Types

Better yet, put Mother Nature before your personal preferences. Butterfly bush is an invasive species that has escaped cultivation in many states because of the numerous seeds grown by the plants. It is illegal to buy or sell these shrubs in some states, like Oregon. Growers are helping out by developing and offering for sale butterfly bush types that are sterile. These are non-invasive types of butterfly bushes that you can plant in your garden with good conscience. Try the sterile, blue-flowered cultivar ‘Blue-Chip.’

Teo Spengler

Teo Spengler has been gardening for 30 years. She is a docent at the San Francisco Botanical Garden. Her passion is trees, 250 of which she has planted on her land in France.