Everybody is familiar with the fluffy, purple panicles of the buddleja. It’s the catnip of the butterfly world and perhaps the mainstay of the cottage garden! One champion of the buddleja is Cllr Joe Porter, Cabinet Member for Climate Change & Biodiversity and District Councillor for Brown Edge & Endon at Staffordshire Moorlands District Council. Here, he explains the many reasons why every garden should have a buddlejba!
Every garden should have a buddleja planted in a warm, sunny position. Their colourful, honeypot flowers give off a sweet waft of fragrance that draws more species of butterflies than any other plant – no wonder they are often known as the ‘Butterfly Bush’. They are also a popular choice for bees and other pollinators who love their plentiful supply of nectar. Whether you have a small or large garden, a windowsill trough or a balcony, there’s a buddleja for everyone.
Thanks to years of breeding programmes, there are buddleja varieties that you can grow in a pot that will have a limited, compact growth habit, with the added bonus of more even blooms than more traditional gigantic buddlejas. The ‘Buddleja Buzz’ series was a revolution in plant breeding and are sold in many garden centres across the country. They come in a variety of colours and have a super long flowering period from June all the way until October. I’ve got 10 of them in my garden of various colours and I can confidently say that they do attract an army of butterflies in the summer months.
If you have more space, then by all means collect some of the larger varieties as there are so many great ones out there. One that I have recently been growing over the last few years is Buddleja ‘Flower Power’ (also known as ‘Bicolour’). Their magical blooms change colour from deep violet to rich butterscotch yellow to create a whole kaleidoscope of colour. This enchanting variety only grows to two metres tall and looks fabulous in any border.
One positive for me is that buddlejas are so easy to grow and even the most inexperienced of gardeners can grow them successfully. When my grandma first taught me gardening when I was six, they were one of the first plants I took a liking to and now every year when I visit RHS flower shows (in normal times), they are one of the plants I look out for the most in the floral marquees. Now that they come in so many colours, shapes and sizes, they can be grown in every part of the garden and that’s why I’ve collected about 20 different varieties in my garden. I make sure they are all regularly deadheaded during the flowering period to keep them in bloom for as long as possible. Even though they are tolerant to dry weather and poor soil, always make sure you regularly water and fertilise them to ensure the best results.
There has been a 76% decline in butterflies in the UK since the 1970s. By planting pollinator friendly plants like buddlejas, we can all make a difference and enjoy the delights of a masquerade of flowers in our gardens. If you haven’t got one yet, then make sure you buy one this year!
Follow Joe on Instagram @iamjoeporter
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