Butterfly bush was the featured plant in the display I made today. The bushes are blooming in dark pink, deep purple and white. The unsold grasses from last season are looking nice again, and add texture and volume when stacked on tiers of cement blocks among a few blooming yucca. Large square containers with curved sides in opalescent shades of moss green and tan complete the palette.
Butterfly bush is now on the ‘bad list’ in Oregon, however, named cultivars are acceptable to sell and plant in your garden. Trim off old blooms before they go to seed to prevent unwanted seedlings, but do any major pruning to shape or restore plant in spring. Apparently, if these shrubs are pruned hard in autumn in zone 7 they can suffer from winter dieback. Butterfly bush always reminds me of riding the train in London; it’s a common weed along the tracks. It has such a rangy, untidy habit that I don’t like much, or the smell of the flowers. I wonder if they could be trained against a wall like a chaste tree. In Minnesota I had luck for several years in a row growing purple butterfly bushes in a sheltered location. They died back to the ground each winter, and so had a fresh and neat appearance when they sprouted up. One good point is that they really do bring in the butterflies. In the nursery there have been lots of Western Tiger Swallowtails feeding on them.