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Buddleia davidii - Franch.

Common Name Butterfly Bush, Summer Lilac, Butterflybush
Family Buddleiaceae
USDA hardiness 4-8
Known Hazards None known
Habitats Found in rocky riverside habitats 1300 - 2600 metres in China[200]. Waste places, often on brick walls in Britain[17].
Range E. Asia - China. Naturalized in Britain[17].
Edibility Rating    (0 of 5)
Other Uses    (1 of 5)
Weed Potential Yes
Medicinal Rating    (0 of 5)
Care (info)
Fully Hardy Well drained soil Moist Soil Full sun
Buddleia davidii Butterfly Bush, Summer Lilac, Butterflybush

Buddleia davidii Butterfly Bush, Summer Lilac, Butterflybush


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Bloom Color: Lavender, Pink, Purple, Red, White, Yellow. Main Bloom Time: Early summer, Early spring, Late summer, Late spring, Mid summer, Mid spring. Form: Rounded. May also be spelt Buddleja.

Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of shrub
Buddleia davidii is a deciduous Shrub growing to 3 m (9ft) by 3 m (9ft) at a fast rate.
See above for USDA hardiness. It is hardy to UK zone 5. It is in flower from July to October, and the seeds ripen from September to October. The species is monoecious (individual flowers are either male or female, but both sexes can be found on the same plant) and is pollinated by Bees, Lepidoptera (Moths & Butterflies).
It is noted for attracting wildlife.
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils, prefers well-drained soil and can grow in nutritionally poor soil. Suitable pH: mildly acid, neutral and basic (mildly alkaline) soils and can grow in very alkaline soils.
It cannot grow in the shade. It prefers dry or moist soil and can tolerate drought. The plant can tolerate maritime exposure.
It can tolerate atmospheric pollution.

UK Hardiness Map US Hardiness Map


B. variabilis. Buddleja davidii.

Plant Habitats

Woodland Garden Sunny Edge; Dappled Shade; East Wall. In. South Wall. In. West Wall. In.

Edible Uses

None known

References   More on Edible Uses

Medicinal Uses

Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.

None known

References   More on Medicinal Uses

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Other Uses


Black or green dyes can be obtained from the flowers, leaves and stems combined[168]. An orange-gold to brown dye can be obtained from the flowers[168]. An extremely popular garden plant due to its low maintenance, long flowering season, colourful and fragrant flowers, and its attractiveness to butterflies. The flowering B. davidii has been closely linked with butterflies, moths and hummingbirds [1d].

Special Uses

Attracts Wildlife  Scented Plants

References   More on Other Uses

Cultivation details

Landscape Uses:Border, Container, Pest tolerant, Massing, Standard, Specimen. Requires a sunny position[11, 182]. Prefers a rich loamy well-drained soil[11, 200]. Very tolerant of alkaline soils, atmospheric pollution and maritime exposure[200]. Grows best on dry soils of low fertility, where it can seed itself freely[182]. Plants are hardy to about -15°c[184], they resprout from the base if cut back by cold weather[200]. A very ornamental plant[1], it hybridizes freely with other members of this genus. Polymorphic, there are many named varieties, developed for their ornamental value[182]. The flowers emit a musk-like fragrance like heather honey[245]. Plants flower mainly on the current years growth so a hard pruning in spring will encourage better flowering[200]. An excellent plant for bees and butterflies[30]. Special Features:Attracts birds, Not North American native, Naturalizing, Attracts butterflies, Suitable for cut flowers, Attractive flowers or blooms.

References   Carbon Farming Information and Carbon Sequestration Information

Temperature Converter

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Plant Propagation

Seed - cold stratify for 4 weeks at 4°c[138] and surface sow the seed in February/March in a greenhouse[78, 113]. Germination usually takes place within 3 - 4 weeks at 21°c[138]. When large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in the greenhouse for at least their first winter, planting them out into their permanent positions in late spring or early summer, after the last expected frosts. Seedlings are inclined to damp off and so should be watered with care and kept well-ventilated[78]. Cuttings of half-ripe wood, July/August in a frame[11, 113]. Use short side-shoots[78]. Very high percentage[113]. Cuttings of mature wood of the current season's growth, 15 - 20cm long, October/November in a frame[200].

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

Orange-eye butterfly bush; Buddleja; summer lilac. French: buddleia de David. Austria: Schmetterlingsstrauch; Sommerflieder. Germany: Schmetterlingsstrauch; Sommerflieder; Spitzaehriger Schmetterlingsstrauch. Italy: albero delle farfalle. Japan: chichibu-fujiutsugi; fusa-fujiutsugi. Switzerland: Schmetterlingsstrauch; Sommerflieder.

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Found In

Countries where the plant has been found are listed here if the information is available


Weed Potential

Right plant wrong place. We are currently updating this section. Please note that a plant may be invasive in one area but may not in your area so it’s worth checking.

It is already considered problematic (i.e. out-competing native, agricultural, and forestry species) in northwestern and northeastern USA and Canada, throughout New Zealand, and in central Europe [1d].

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status : This taxon has not yet been assessed.

Related Plants
Latin NameCommon NameHabitHeightHardinessGrowthSoilShadeMoistureEdibleMedicinalOther
Buddleia asiaticaBai Bei FengShrub3.0 7-10  LMHNDM112
Buddleia globosaOrange Ball TreeShrub5.0 6-9  LMHNM01 
Buddleia officinalisMi Meng HuaShrub2.0 7-10  LMHNDM02 
Buddleia paniculata Shrub6.0 7-10  LMHNDM013

Growth: S = slow M = medium F = fast. Soil: L = light (sandy) M = medium H = heavy (clay). pH: A = acid N = neutral B = basic (alkaline). Shade: F = full shade S = semi-shade N = no shade. Moisture: D = dry M = Moist We = wet Wa = water.


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Botanical References


Links / References

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Readers comment

David Beaulieu   Tue Jan 24 2006

Butterfly Bush Uses for butterfly bush and how to grow it.

trisha   Mon Apr 30 2007

Other use: Buddleia davidii 'Black Knight' - I have one that produces a great crop of long straight branches, which, when harvested in late Autumn, before the frosts start, stripped of leaves and small branchlets, can be tied together in bunches and stored in a cool, dry, dark environment to make excellent plant canes/supports for the following year.

Jorie Colwell   Sat Jan 2 2010

I hope someone can tell me whether Buddleia branches, the thicker, overgrown and woody ones, can be used for kindling and larger pieces of firewood. If you have found this to be a usable wood for emergency use especially, please let me know at [email protected]. Thanks, Jorie.

   Aug 18 2010 12:00AM

My general interest and research is into wild foods and whilst researching and writing recipes for my wild food e-book, I made syrup this year from Buddleia davidii flowers. It was extremely delicious in its own right without mention of its medicinal qualities. It has, apparently, been used for centuries in Chinese medicine for the treatment of bronchial complaints and is known for its sedative and calming influences upon the system. Through my personal use of it I found it to be of a gently soporiphic nature and definitely excellent for sleep and rest. No harmful side effects noted or experienced when taking one teaspoon up to one dessertspoonful at any given time, although I would not recommend taking it if needing to operate machinery, due to its sedative qualities. One could mix the syrup with fizzy water and ice for a refreshingly different non alcoholic evening drink whilst watching the sun go down!

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