How To Propagate Butterfly Bushes From Cuttings, Seeds and Root Division

Butterfly On Butterfly Bush
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(Image credit: TracieMichelle)

If you want endless blooms summer through fall, consider growing butterfly bush. This attractive shrub can be easily propagated by seeds, cuttings, and division. Best of all, butterflies love it, so you'll be welcoming these important pollinators to the garden. Keep reading to learn how to propagate butterfly bushes.

How to Propagate Butterfly Bushes from Seed

One method for propagating butterfly bush is by growing seeds. You can grow butterfly bushes from seed, but it's usually quicker and easier to propagate butterfly bush cuttings. Seeds need to be pre-chilled for up to four weeks prior to planting. 

Since butterfly bush seeds require plenty of light to germinate, the seeds only need to be lightly covered with soil. Once sown, keep the seeds moist. They should germinate sometime within a few months so be patient.

Propagating Butterfly Bush Cuttings

Can you root a butterfly bush? Yes. In fact, one of the easiest ways to propagate this plant is from butterfly bush cuttings. Simply take branch tip cuttings in spring or summer. Make cuttings at least 3 inches (7.5 cm.) long and remove the bottommost leaves. (Note: Pinching off the tip of cuttings will also promote bushier plants) 

As with most cuttings, making an angled cut will allow for better nutrient absorption and make rooting easier. If desired, dip the end in rooting hormone and then stick into moist, peaty sand or potting soil. Place in a shady but well-lit area, keeping it warm and moist. Hardwood cuttings can be taken in fall and treated the same way.

 You should begin to notice root development on your butterfly bush cuttings within a few weeks.

Propagating Butterfly Bush by Division

Butterfly bush can also be propagated through division of its roots. This can be done in spring or fall, depending on where you live and personal preference. Carefully dig up mature butterfly bushes and remove excess soil. 

Then either separate the roots by hand or use a spade shovel to divide the plants. You can transplant these into containers or place them in other suitable areas of the landscape.

Nikki Tilley
Senior Editor

Nikki Tilley has been gardening for nearly three decades. The former Senior Editor and Archivist of Gardening Know How, Nikki has also authored six gardening books.