Beautiful Types of Butterfly Bushes (Including Dwarf Butterfly Bush Plants) – With Pictures

Butterfly Bush

Butterfly bush (botanical name Buddleja or Buddleia) is a group of small to medium-sized flowering shrubs. Butterfly bushes have beautiful clusters of colorful flowers that bloom from summer to fall. The conical flower clusters bloom in shades of purple, white, pink, and orange. The vibrantly colored flower spikes attract a multitude of butterflies—hence the common name butterfly bush.

Dwarf butterfly bushes are beautiful shrubs for growing in small, compact gardens or containers. Many gardeners choose dwarf varieties of butterfly bushes because they aren’t invasive like the larger shrubs. Also, the size of flowers on a dwarf butterfly bush is the same as the taller plants.

This article is a guide to the most spectacular butterfly bushes for your garden landscape. You will find pictures of Buddleia butterfly shrubs to pick the best flowers for blooming during summer and attract pollinators to your garden. Also, you will learn about non-invasive butterfly bushes.

Butterfly Bush Size

butterfly bush

Butterfly bush (Buddleja or Buddleia)

Butterfly bush is a medium-sized flowering shrub that grows between 5 and 10 ft. (1.5 – 3 m) tall and between 4 and 10 ft. (1 – 3 m) wide. Buddleja shrubs are identified by their upright, arching branches, lanceolate leaves, and long flower clusters (panicles) growing 4” to 20” (10 – 50 cm) long.

Butterfly bush is a multi-stemmed shrub. However, in warmer climates, butterfly bush can grow as a small tree. You can also grow a butterfly bush tree by staking the main trunk and removing suckers as they grow every year. Eventually, a flowering butterfly bush tree grows to the same size as its shrub variety.

Dwarf Butterfly Bush Size

A dwarf butterfly bush is a short shrub that grows between 2 and 3 ft. (0.6 – 1 m) tall and wide. Like the larger varieties, dwarf butterfly bushes have a rounded growth habit with arching branches. The attractive feature of the miniature shrubs is their stunning conical flower clusters.

What Is Dwarf Butterfly Bush?

butterfly bush

Dwarf butterfly bushes are seedless and typically non-invasive

A dwarf butterfly bush is a smaller version of the regular butterfly shrub. Most miniature butterfly bushes are seedless and, therefore, sterile. This fact means that dwarf butterfly bushes are typically non-invasive. Thanks to their small size, you can plant several miniature shrubs in your landscape.

For the dwarf butterfly bush shrub to thrive in your garden, grow it in full sun and well-drained soil. Generally, dwarf butterfly bushes are drought-tolerant perennials that are easy to care for plants in gardens.

Dwarf butterfly bushes have several uses for landscaping any size of garden. The small sun-loving butterfly shrubs are ideal for foundation plantings, shrub borders, or cottage gardens. Their miniature size means a dwarf butterfly bush is perfect in a container garden. Of course, you can plant them to attract pollinators.

Non-Invasive Butterfly Bush Plants

Butterfly bush shrubs are not native to North America. Their masses of flowers produce a ton of seeds, classing the plant as noxious and invasive. However, non-invasive varieties of Buddleia can grow where the invasive species are banned. Non-invasive butterfly bushes are sterile and don’t produce many seeds.

Non-invasive varieties of butterfly bush plants are also called summer lilac. This name helps to identify types of Buddleja that don’t pose a threat to native plants. The name summer lilac comes from the fact that butterfly bush flowers look like lilac flowers.

Common Varieties of Dwarf Butterfly Bush

types of butterfly bush

Most varieties of dwarf butterfly bush plants are suitable for growing in any garden. The dwarf hybrids don’t take up much room in a landscape. The small bushes bloom in several colors, such as shades of purple, white, pink and orange.

Some examples of dwarf cultivars in the genus Buddleja include the following:

  • Buddleia ‘Miss Molly’
  • Buddleia ‘Miss Ruby’
  • Buddleia Lo & Behold series
  • Butterfly Bush ‘Border Beauty’
  • Butterfly Bush Flutterby Petite Tutti Fruitti Pink

Planting Butterfly Bush in the Garden

Butterfly bushes thrive in full sun and well-drained soil. Too much shade can result in fewer blooms that are pale. It’s best to plant a dwarf butterfly bush in early spring or fall. This allows the roots time to develop before heat or frost stresses the new shrub.

To plant a butterfly bush, dig a hole twice as large as the root ball. Plant the shrub, so the root ball is just above the soil line—this helps with drainage. Fill the remaining space with compost and water thoroughly and regularly during the first season.

It’s not usually necessary to fertilize a butterfly bush. Too much fertilization can result in too much foliage and too few blooms. Usually, working in organic compost is enough to give the shrub its necessary nutrients.

Growing butterfly bush shrubs in your landscape supports the lifecycle of butterflies. Although Buddleja shrubs attract many butterflies, native caterpillars and larvae don’t feed on the foliage. To support butterflies, it’s a good idea to plant shrubs and trees such as dogwood, pipevine, black cherry, and tulip poplars.

How to Care for Butterfly Bush

butterfly bush care

Butterfly bushes grow best in full sun and well-draining slightly acidic soil

To care for a butterfly bush, grow the shrub in full sun, where it gets at least eight hours of sunlight daily. Grow Buddleja in slightly acidic, well-drained soil. The shrub is relatively drought-tolerant, so only water when the top layer of soil dries. For healthy growth, regularly prune in spring.

Butterfly bush grows in USDA zones 5 through 9. In colder climates, the bushy shrub grows as an herbaceous perennial. So, it will die back to the ground. You can protect the roots by mulching around the root zone.

How to Care for Dwarf Butterfly Bush

Growing a dwarf butterfly bush in the ground is similar to the larger shrubs. If growing a small container-sized butterfly bush, use a lightweight, airy soil mix. Water the soil whenever the top layer dries out. Place the dwarf butterfly bush container in full sun.

It’s best not to bring dwarf butterfly bushes growing in pots indoors during the winter. So, choose a variety of miniature container shrubs to suit your zone.

Butterfly Bush Colors

butterfly bush colors

Butterfly bush flower colors are typically purple, pink and white, but can come in yellow and orange colors too

The attractive feature of a butterfly bush is its vibrant, colorful pointed panicles. When in bloom from early summer until late fall, the shrub is a mass of pink, purple, blue, white, yellow, and orange floral spikes. The color of some butterfly bush flowering clusters can have a two-tone effect.

Buddleja x weyeriana 'Honeycomb'

Buddleja x weyeriana ‘Honeycomb’ has yellow or orange flowers

Types of Dwarf Butterfly Bush (With Pictures)

Let’s look in more detail at the varieties of butterfly bushes you can grow in your garden landscape.

Blue Chip Dwarf Butterfly Bush (Buddleja x ‘Blue Chip’)

Blue Chip Butterfly Bush

‘Blue Chip’ butterfly bush

‘Blue Chip’ butterfly bush is a small deciduous shrub with long purple flowering spikes that bloom in summer. The purple-bluish flowering dwarf shrub has lanceolate grayish-green leaves growing on arching branches. As an easy-to-grow dwarf shrub, ‘Blue Chip’ Buddleja is among the non-invasive butterfly plant varieties.

‘Blue Chip’ butterfly bush is ideal for containers, shrub borders, compact gardens, and butterfly gardens. To extend the blooming season, deadhead spent blooms until the first frost.

Height and spread: 1 to 2 ft. (0.3 – 0.6 m) tall and wide.

Bloom time: Mid-summer until late fall.

Color: Intense blue to light purple.

Buddleja Lo & Behold ‘Ice Chip’

Buddleja Lo & Behold ‘Ice Chip’

Buddleja Lo & Behold ‘Ice Chip’

‘Ice Chip’ butterfly bush is from the Lo & Behold dwarf varieties. The shrub is a low-growing perennial with long conical clusters of fragrant tiny white flowers. Its full, dense foliage of silvery-green leaves creates a beautiful, rounded shape no more than 2 ft. (0.6 m) tall.

Buddleja ‘Ice Chip’ is a vigorous grower. But it’s a sterile plant, and so you can plant it in ornamental gardens without fear of it taking over.

‘Ice Chip’ butterfly bush is ideal for planting along pathways, informal gardens, or butterfly gardens. In addition, this dwarf shrub is useful as foundation plantings, ground cover in full sun, or container gardens.

Height and spread: 1.6 to 2 ft. (0.5 – 0.6 m) tall and 2.6 ft. (0.8 m) wide.

Bloom time: Summer and fall.

Color: White.

Dwarf Purple Haze Butterfly Bush (Buddleja ‘Purple Haze’)

Buddleja ‘Purple Haze’

Buddleja ‘Purple Haze’

‘Purple Haze’ butterfly bush is a dwarf sun-loving shrub with elongated panicles of intense purple flowers that droop down at the ends. The sweetly-scented flowers fill summer gardens with pleasant aromas when in bloom from mid-summer until the fall. The dark-green lance-shaped leaves grow densely on arching branches.

The dwarf ‘Purple Haze’ Buddleja thrives in sunny cottage gardens and butterfly gardens. Grow the bushy shrub along borders, driveways, or front-of-house plantings. Its short height means that this dwarf butterfly bush is perfect for container growing.

Height and spread: 2 to 3 ft. (0.6 – 1 m) tall and 3 – 4 ft. (1 – 1.2 m) wide.

Bloom time: Mid-summer until late fall.

Color: Purple.

Dwarf Butterfly Bush Flutterby Petite Tutti Fruitti Pink

Butterfly Bush Flutterby Petite Tutti Fruitti Pink

Butterfly Bush ‘Flutterby Petite Tutti Fruitti Pink’

The pink-flowering dwarf butterfly bush ‘Flutterby Petite Tutti Fruitti Pink’ is a spectacular miniature shrub for sunny gardens. The arching branches droop gracefully with sweetly aromatic bright fuchsia-pink conical flowers. The green lance-shaped leaves create dense foliage covering the small shrub from early spring until the first frost.

The Flutterby series of butterfly bush cultivars is a group of sterile, non-invasive shrubs. You can plant this butterfly bush in full sun in shrub borders, along foundations, or in containers. Deadhead flowers to keep the shrub blooming all summer until the frost.

Height and spread: 2 to 3 ft. (0.6 – 1 m) tall and wide.

Bloom time: Early summer until late fall.

Color: Bright magenta pink.

Pugster Dwarf Butterfly Bush

Pugster Butterfly Bush

Pugster Blue butterfly bush (left) and Pugster Amethyst butterfly bush (right)

Pugster dwarf butterfly bush is a spectacular small shrub with full-sized flowers. The large flowering conical clusters cover the small shrub and flower non-stop throughout the summer. From all the dwarf butterfly bush plants, the Pugster shrubs are some of the hardiest.

Here are two outstanding examples of dwarf Pugster butterfly bushes:

  • Pugster Amethyst Butterfly Bush—Fragrant lilac-colored flower clusters growing on a stumpy, compact bush.
  • Pugster Blue Butterfly Bush—Full-sized pyramid-shaped flowers in a deep blue to dark purple color.

Landscaping uses for these dwarf butterfly bush shrubs are in mass plantings, foundation plantings, or borders. You can also plant them as ground cover or in containers.

Height and spread: 2 ft. (0.6 m) tall and 2 to 3 ft. (0.6 – 1 m) wide.

Bloom time: Summer until the end of fall.

Color: Deep blue or light purple.

Other Types of Butterfly Bush (With Pictures)

Let’s look at some of the larger varieties of butterfly bush. Although these cultivars aren’t on the list of dwarf butterfly bush plants, some are only one or two feet taller than the miniature shrub varieties.

Adonis Blue Butterfly Bush (Buddleja davidii ‘Adokeep’)

Adonis Blue Butterfly Bush

‘Adonis Blue’ butterfly bush

The ‘Adonis Blue’ butterfly bush is slightly taller than dwarf varieties. The large cylindrical fragrant flower clusters are 18” (45 cm) long and are deep blue, almost purple. The showy flowers droop at the end of arching branches. Grow in borders, butterfly gardens, or cottage gardens for fall flowers.

Height and spread: 5 ft. (1.5 m) tall and wide.

Bloom time: Summer through fall.

Color: Deep blue – purple.

Black Knight Butterfly Bush (Buddleja davidii ‘Black Knight’)

Black Knight Butterfly Bush

‘Black Knight’ butterfly bush

‘Black Knight’ butterfly bush is a large, fast-growing shrub with arching panicles of deep purple flowers. The elongated flowering clusters grow up to 10” (25 cm) long. The long, lance-shaped green leaves have silvery undersides. This compact, spreading shrub is ideal for shrub borders, foundation plantings, and to attract butterflies.

Height and spread: 5 to 8 ft. (1.5 – 2.4 m) tall and 4 to 6 ft. (1.2 – 1.8 m) wide.

Bloom time: Mid-summer until fall.

Color: Dark purple.

Miss Molly Butterfly Bush (Buddleja x Miss Molly)

Miss Molly Butterfly Bush

‘Miss Molly’ butterfly bush

‘Miss Molly’ is a medium-sized butterfly bush with dark pink-red, scented flower clusters, gray-green elongated pointed leaves, and a compact, mounding growth. The spectacular rich pink-reddish cone-like flowers have a long blooming time and contrast superbly with the dense leafy foliage.

Grow ‘Miss Molly’ Buddleja in informal cottage gardens or to attract pollinators.

Height and spread: 4 to 5 ft. (1.2 – 1.5 m) tall and wide.

Bloom time: Mid-summer until late fall or the first frost.

Color: Rich, dark pinkish-red.

Alternate-Leaved Butterfly Bush (Buddleja alternifolia)

Buddleja alternifolia

Buddleja alternifolia

Also called fountain butterfly bush, the alternate-leaved variety is a large flowering shrub that attracts butterflies. The multi-stemmed shrub has arching branches that produce clusters of sweet-smelling lilac-purple flowers. The huge flowers measure up to 18” (45 cm) long and hide the lanceolate green leaves when in bloom in spring and summer.

With care and pruning, this shrub can grow as a butterfly bush tree with a single stem, graceful drooping branches, and beautiful flower clusters.

Height and spread: 10 to 12 ft. (3 – 3.6 m) tall and wide.

Bloom time: Spring and summer.

Color: Light purple or lilac.

Buddleja Davidii ‘Buzz Magenta Improved’ Butterfly Bush’

Buddleja Davidii 'Buzz Magenta Improved'

Buddleja Davidii ‘Buzz Magenta Improved’

The ‘Buzz Magenta Improved’ Buddleja shrub is slightly larger than a dwarf butterfly bush. Growing 3 ft. to 5 ft. (1 – 1.5 m), the graceful arching branches produce stunning magenta flower cones. The drooping dark pink-red panicles droop in amongst lance-shaped gray-green leaves. This dwarf-like shrub grows well as foundation plantings, shrub borders, and in large containers.

Height and spread: 3 to 5 ft. (1 – 1.5 m) tall and wide.

Bloom time: Mid-summer through fall.

Color: Intense magenta or dark red.

Nanho Purple Butterfly Bush (Buddleia davidii ‘Nanho Purple’)

Buddleia davidii ‘Nanho Purple’

Buddleia davidii ‘Nanho Purple’

The ‘Nanho Purple’ is a small, almost dwarf-sized butterfly bush. The informal shrub has large, showy conical purple fragrant flower clusters and 10-inch (25-cm) long lanceolate green tapering leaves. As an herbaceous perennial, the butterfly bush shrub dies back to the ground in cold winters. Grow the small butterfly bush to attract butterflies in cottage gardens, sunny borders, or along sidewalks.

Height and spread: 3 to 5 ft. (1 – 1.5 m) tall and wide.

Bloom time: Mid-summer through fall.

Color: Purple.

Butterfly Bush ‘Border Beauty’ (Buddleja davidii ‘Border Beauty’)

Buddleja ‘Border Beauty’

‘Border Beauty’ butterfly bush

‘Border Beauty’ is a deciduous shrub with large leaves, masses of purple cone-like flowering spikes, and a short stature. The feature of the ‘Border Beauty’ Buddleja is its rich purple-pink flowers growing on red stems. Also, the attractive flowering shrub has large green lanceolate leaves.

The spectacular flowers on the ‘Border Beauty’ butterfly bush grow 6” – 8” (15 – 20 cm) long.

As with all dwarf butterfly bush plants, the ‘Border Beauty’ looks stunning as foundation plantings, in shrub borders, containers, or along walkways.

Height and spread: 6 ft. (2 m) tall and 4 to 5 ft. (1.2 – 1.5 m) wide.

Bloom time: Summer and fall.

Color: Deep pink-purple.

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