Butterfly Bush – Should it Stay or Should it Go?

monarch butterfly on white butterfly bush

monarch butterfly

I have a native plant dilemma…

Saturday I attended the the Northern Shenandoah Valley Master Gardener Association “Garden in the Valley” Symposium. The final speaker of the day, Janet Davis, is the co-owner of Hill House Farm and Nursery, here in Virginia. Janet did what any good speaker should do…she made me think.

Janet made me aware of a new-to-me-plant: buttonbush, or Cephalanthus ocidentalis. She shared that butterflies flock to it, and if you have butterfly bush, or Buddleja davidii, you should rip it out and replace it with buttonbush.  Evidently butterfly bushes don’t actually feed any butterfly larvae, and if you plant both types of bush side by side, the butterflies prefer the buttonbush.

So now I’m faced with that dilemma I mentioned. I have butterfly bush. I think I have six or seven of them. I had monarchs on my white bush three years ago, and the swallowtails check out the pinks and the lavenders.

That said, I KNOW they are invasive. I’ve had no problems, but I don’t know where those seeds may fall.

I’m thinking for now I’ll look into native replacements for the butterfly bush that can grow while I deal with my dilemma. When the replacements are mature, then I can deal with removing the butterfly bushes. If you know someone local who would like to dig them up, let me know! That might help make the decision easier :-)

What would YOU do?

common wood nymph butterfly on white butterfly bush

common wood nymph butterfly

red spotted purple butterfly on white butterfly bush

red spotted purple butterfly

monarch butterfly on white butterfly bush

monarch butterfly

american lady butterfly on white buddleja

american lady butterfly

black swallowtail on white butterfly bush

black swallowtail

*** This site is comprised solely of the opinions of its author, Stacey Morgan Smith. She works to promote gardening and tourism in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, from Roanoke to the Potomac River.***

1 comment to Butterfly Bush – Should it Stay or Should it Go?

  • Deborah Watts

    I companion plant next to my butterfly bushes. Joe Pye, milk weed, rue, Ash. These are all located close to my butterfly bushes. I believe butterflies know which plants are suitable for their young and lay accordingly. My butterfly bushes are welcome friends in my garden, the fragrance is amazing.They are semi evergreen and provide food and shelter for the birds in the winter. I have an orange honey ball 12 ft high which the bees and hummingbirds adore,three different purples in pots, a white 12-15 ft high, and a peach sunset in pot. They’re staying. I looked at the button bush, the flowers are lovely the tree lacks in my eyes. Victoria, BC Canada

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