Butterfly Bush Companion Plants

Butterfly Bush is a wonderful shrub for attracting beneficial pollinators to the garden and adding long-lasting flower color through the fall. The long flower spikes bloom during even the hottest summer weather and add contrast to other late-summer perennials and flowering shrubs. The varied sizes of Butterfly Bush make some suitable for a mixed hedge and others  the focal point of a container garden on a deck or patio. 

Pairing Butterfly Bush is easy when you understand its preference for sunlight, water, and soil conditions. Even though Butterfly Bushes are known to grow in just about any garden situation, well-draining, neutral pH soil with moderate fertility will support larger flower spikes and deeper foliage color. Supplemental watering may be required during very hot or dry periods in the summer, although well-established shrubs tend to tolerate short periods of drought well. Give Butterfly Bush the room it needs to fully spread out; depending on the variety, this could mean a 6-8 foot mature width. Adequate space not only highlights the graceful arching stems and flower spikes, but also provides the proper amount of air circulation to reduce the chance of mildew or other fungal diseases striking. 


Shrubs To Plant With Butterfly Bush

Butterfly Bushes fit in with traditional planting plans for cottage gardens beautifully. Traditional late-spring bloomers like lilacs and mock orange shrubs provide an attractive backdrop for the contrasting foliage of Butterfly Bushes. The open vase shape of all three shrubs also works in a continuous informal hedge, which can be very effective in a larger yard or along a property line. 

Later-blooming deciduous shrubs such as Crape Myrtle and Rose of Sharon add vertical structure to the hedge when paired with Butterfly Bush. All of these shrubs require the same growing conditions as Butterfly Bush while offering fragrant and long-lasting blooms for cutting and arranging. 

Perennials To Plant With Butterfly Bush

Many sun-loving perennials pair well with Butterfly bush. Woody perennials such as catmint and Russian sage complement the silvery foliage of most Butterfly Bush varieties. The multiple shades of blue, purple, and pink of these plants can be used to provide a calming and restful feeling in the garden. Lower-growing herbaceous perennials such as autumn stonecrop, Salvia and sedum can be used as a groundcover near Butterfly Bush. The heat-loving sedum will not only help to cool the root zone of Butterfly Bush but also is effective in suppressing any perennial weeds that compete for moisture in the soil. Salvias in hot colors (red and orange) contrast the cooler colors (blues, purple, white, and pink) of Butterfly Bush, making a visual impact. 

Tall salvias, 2-3 feet in height, make a great middle layer of a planting bed, hiding bare stems of larger shrubs and adding much-needed color in a perennial garden during the late summer months.  

Annuals To Plant With Butterfly Bush

All manner of annuals can be grown with Butterfly Bush. Think about adding Portulaca or trailing Lantana as a drought-tolerant and hardy groundcover to an area with perennials that have not reached maturity. Strawflower, Salvia, and Firecracker plants will add a pop of color early in the summer before Butterfly Bush is in full bloom. Choose annuals that bloom all season without needing to be fertilized often. Overfertilized Butterfly Bushes have leggy growth and often reduced flowering. 

Best Companion Plants For Butterfly Bush in Containers

When it comes to growing Butterfly Bush in containers, this shrub is the star of the show. Choose container companions that can serve as the filler or spiller element. The larger root system of Butterfly Bush will need plenty of room and will tolerate plants with shallow or small root systems. Typically annuals or perennials with fibrous roots are the best match. Sedum, Portulaca, Verbena, and Calibrachoa come in many colors to complement or contrast your Butterfly Bush and look great spilling over the side of a large container. 

Butterfly Bush growing in a pot will require more fertilizing than those growing in the garden. Applying a diluted liquid fertilizer every 3-4 weeks from April to August will promote healthy foliage and profuse flowering. 


Plants Not To Grow With Butterfly Bush

Perennials and shrubs that require consistently moist or even boggy soil do not make good companions for Butterfly Bush. Hostas, Ferns, Bleeding Hearts, and Hydrangea require more shade and nutrients than Butterfly Bush. Butterfly Bush also does not grow well under trees, even in areas of partial sun exposure. The areas under or around large trees are not only too shady but typically too dry for larger shrubs to attain sufficient moisture. 

Best Plants To Grow With Butterfly Bush









Butterfly Bush will grow best with shrubs and perennials that share its preference for well-draining, moderately fertile soil, full to partly sunny location, and consistent moisture. Perennials and annuals make good lower-story plants to highlight or contrast Butterfly Bush’s foliage and flowers.  Evergreen or deciduous shrubs can be used with Butterfly Bush to create informal hedging or interesting foundation plantings. 

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Author Robbin Small - Published 8-28-2023