Butterfly Bushes Aren't Blooming

Butterfly Bush (Buddleja) is a hardy shrub that attracts butterflies and hummingbirds to its long, cylindrical flowers. The shrub usually begins blooming in early to midsummer, and should continue blooming through fall, depending on growing zone and weather.

Gardeners have little to do in order to get a butterfly bush to bloom, even in its first year. Just make sure it gets sun, water and proper pruning. If a butterfly bush is not blooming, there usually are easy fixes.


Common Reasons Why Butterfly Bushes Aren’t Blooming

The flowers of butterfly bushes bloom on new wood, or branches that emerge in spring after winter dormancy. Pruning the butterfly bush too late, after it already is beginning to set some buds, might prevent normal blooming. Failing to prune at all (usually in late winter or early spring) can cause the shrub's stems to grow too tall, and the plant has to use energy normally put to flowering on just keeping all those leaves alive and green, which affects bloom quantity.

There is no need to fertilize butterfly bushes, which also can make them put too much work into long stem growth and push flowers even further from the roots. If a frost occurs after buds form, it might kill new blooms, but that rarely happens, since butterfly bush buds do not appear until summer in most locations.

Butterfly bushes need plenty of sunshine to bloom and might be affected by getting less than 6 hours of sun a day. Nearby trees might have grown taller than in past years, casting additional shade on the shrub. If a butterfly bush is in a container, you can move the pot to a sunnier spot. Anytime a shrub is stressed, which can happen in drought even to a butterfly bush, the plant begins to reserve energy to survive the stress and might not set blooms until strong heat and drought pass.


Does Pruning Butterfly Bush Help Them Bloom

Since new wood produces blooms on butterfly bushes, pruning, usually in late winter or early spring as new growth begins appearing, is an important part of the bloom cycle. Pruning too early in winter or too late in summer can affect blooming. The hollow stems that are cut can take in water and freeze, causing them to split. Most butterfly bushes do not need deadheading to produce continuous bloom and deadheading too low on a stem instead of removing just the spent flower down to new leaves might affect bloom power.

Does Fertilizing Butterfly Bushes Help Them Bloom

There is no need to fertilize a butterfly bush. In fact, applying nitrogen encourages foliage growth at the expense of flowering. A light layer of compost can help enrich the soil slowly and naturally.

How Do I Get Butterfly Bush To Produce More Blooms

Sometimes, you can't fight Mother Nature. Rain, cold, or heat might come at an unusual time in the plant's growth cycle and affect blooming. Give your butterfly bush regular deep watering based on weather (more in peak heat or drought, for example) and prune it each spring. Assuming sun, rain, and pruning all come together, the bush should bloom fully and continuously throughout summer.


Why Isn’t My Butterfly Bush Blooming

  • Timing of pruning can affect blooms.
  • The shrub needs more water in peak heat and long drought.
  • Overwatering or fertilizing might lead to long and rapid growth at the expense of blooming.
  • The shrub needs more sun.
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 Author Teresa Odle - Published 7-06-2020