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Watering Butterfly Bushes

Author Teresa Odle 7-6-2020

Butterfly bush (Buddleja) is a mostly drought-tolerant shrub, but for best survival and flowering, gardeners should adjust their watering in certain situations. Once the root system of a newly planted butterfly bush is established and the plant is mature, it likely will thrive despite being under-watered.

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How to Tell if Butterfly Bushes Need Watered

Most shrubs, including butterfly bush, give clues when they need water. Wilting leaves are one sign of a dry plant, but be careful about assuming wilting always is from lack of water. You can water butterfly bush too much, depending on the weather and soil in which it grows.

How Often To Water Butterfly Bush

When you first plant a butterfly bush, water it at least once a week and apply the water slowly and deeply. This will help the plant establish deep roots. If the plant appears soggy when you plan to water next time, however, hold off another day. Butterfly bush roots do not like to sit in wet soil, especially during cooler evenings. The plants can handle short periods of drought once they are mature.

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After the shrub is established, water most varieties at least weekly when temperatures soar above 85 degrees. Again, the key is deep watering. A butterfly bush that has been in the landscape for a few years might need less watering on hot days but will likely flower better if it receives enough water. A greater problem with butterfly bushes is overwatering. The shrub, especially a larger variety, grows rapidly on its own. Overwatering can cause the roots to rot and can force too much growth into stems and leaves at the later expense of flowering. In winter, water monthly or let snow and rain keep the plant healthy.

Potted butterfly bushes need a little more frequent watering than those in the ground. A drip system for containers is ideal because it will water the shrub slowly and deeply. An alternative is to place a self-watering tool in the pot or laying a bubbler or hose across the top of the container and let water flow at a near trickle for 30 minutes or more.

Best Time To Water Butterfly Bushes

Water a butterfly bush in the morning for best results, whether in summer or winter. This helps keep the plant roots cool and moistened during the hottest part of the day but gives the soil time to drain a bit before a cool evening.

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How to Water Butterfly Bushes

Step 1 – Looks for signs the plant needs water.
Wilting leaves usually mean it needs water, but if the soil is soggy, especially late in the day, wait until morning.

Step 2 – Use a slow drip.
If possible, water butterfly bush with a drip system for a slower, longer watering that drains deeply into the soil

Step 3 – Water container plants more often.
Water butterfly bushes in pots with a dripper of self-watering system if possible, or slow trickles of water

Butterfly Bush Watering Tips

  • Butterfly bushes can sustain periods of drought once established.
  • Avoid overwatering butterfly bush, especially in heavy soil.
  • Water slowly and deeply for best results.
  • Adjust watering for heat, cold, winter, or new plants.