Fertilizing Butterfly Bushes

Normally, butterfly bushes do not need to be fertilized. One reason is because the shrub already grows so rapidly each season. With heavy fertilizing, the plant can grow too quickly and the stems can become weak. Fertilizing too heavily also can force more energy into producing leaves at the expense of good flowering. If growing a butterfly bush in a container, it can benefit from one balanced feeding a year. Do not fertilize it in its first year, as fresh potting mix should provide all the nutrients it needs that first growing season.


How to Fertilize Butterfly Bushes

Butterfly bush grows best in native garden soil. The shrub is not too particular about soil pH, although it favors a slightly acidic soil. It is best not to amend the soil to try to balance its nutrients or pH. Instead, add a layer of compost around the base at planting and each spring. The compost will release nutrients slowly and gradually compared to liquid fertilizers, which provide a nitrogen boost that forces rapid growth. Using a slow-release fertilizer for container-grown butterfly bushes in the second and subsequent years of growth can help keep the plant flowering but not growing too rapidly.

Best Time To Fertilize Butterfly Bushes

Fertilize established container-grown butterfly bushes in the spring as new growth begins to appear near the base of the plant. It is best not to fertilize again and to avoid adding fertilizer on a hot day. 

Best Fertilizer For Butterfly Bushes

Well-draining soil is better for butterfly bush than a fertilizer regimen. If you have nutrient-deficient soil, a weak application of fertilizer might be helpful. Container-grown butterfly bushes will deplete the nutrients in the potting soil and can benefit from a supplementary feeding every year. Choose a granular, slow-release fertilizer, or mix in a new layer of organic matter like compost. Water in the feeding well. We recommend using an organic fertilizer on these hardy plants to release nutrients more slowly and prevent overfeeding.

Butterfly Bush Fertilizing Tips

  • Avoid fertilizing butterfly bush.
  • Container-grown butterfly bushes need fertilizing once a year only.
  • Fertilize butterfly bushes in pots in early spring.

-Always wear protective gloves and a face mask when handling chemical fertilizers.
-Closely follow all directions and storage guidelines that are on the fertilizer label.

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 Author Teresa Odle - Published 7-06-2020