Butterfly bush is a large, fast-growing shrub. Mature plants have arching 10- to 12-foot (3 to 3.6 m.) high stems laden with panicles of bright flowers that attract butterflies and hummingbirds. Despite its ornamental appearance, a butterfly bush is a tough shrub that requires little human assistance. The plant is not a heavy feeder, and fertilizing a butterfly bush is not essential to growth. However, some gardeners use fertilizer in spring. Read on for information about feeding butterfly bushes and the best fertilizer for butterfly bushes.
Do Butterfly Bushes Need Fertilizer?
Before you start debating about what type of fertilizer to use, ask a simpler question: Do butterfly bushes need fertilizer at all?
Every plant requires certain nutrients to grow, but feeding butterfly bushes is generally not required. The shrubs grow well on average soil as long as it is well drained. Many experts suggest that there is no reason to start fertilizing a butterfly bush, as the plant will grow and bloom perfectly well without feeding.
However, if your butterfly bush is growing in poor soil, you may want to consider some type of fertilizer. The best fertilizer for butterfly bushes may be as simple as organic compost.
Best Fertilizer for Butterfly Bushes
If you decide that to start feeding butterfly bushes in your garden, you may wonder what is the best fertilizer for butterfly bushes. While “best” depends on individual judgment, many gardeners opt to use organic compost as mulch, since it nourishes the soil and, in that way, ends up fertilizing a butterfly bush.
Organic compost from the garden store or, better yet, your backyard compost bin, enriches the soil you spread it on by adding fertility and organic content. Used as a mulch (spread in a 3-inch (7.5 cm.) layer on the soil beneath a plant all the way out to the drip line), also keeps down weeds and locks in moisture to the soil.
Fertilizing a Butterfly Bush
If you add organic compost to soil before you plant a butterfly bush, and add additional compost as mulch every year, additional fertilizer is not required. However, if you don’t want to mulch for some reason, you might want to know how to fertilize a butterfly bush.
One way to fertilize the bush is to sprinkle a handful of balanced granular fertilizer around the base of the plant in springtime. Water it in well and be sure it doesn’t touch the foliage.