Friday, February 27, 2009

Butterfly Bush

Ugh. What a week. Mother Nature continuously mocked us. "Oh, you want some spring weather? Well, here’s a 45 degree day. What, what’s that? You have a problem with no sun and torrential downpours? Fine! I’m going to take all that water and freeze it!!! Now it’s 20 degrees again. How do you like crunchy, muddy grass? Ha!” 

You get the point. 

Tonight I looked up some info on butterfly bushes. We have two toward the back of the lot, each holding up their corner of fence and garage. My friend trimmed them both way back shortly after we moved in last spring. The bushes sprang back over the season, producing pretty, pale purple spear-like flowers. The bees and a handful of butterflies enjoyed the plants.

From what I gather through browsing, the butterfly bush (Buddleia) actually came from China where it’s referred to as “summer lilac.” It blooms from midsummer through September. Each March, the plant should be drastically trimmed back to about 12" above the ground. Any dead branches can be removed, along with branches shooting out at odd angles or tangling with others. Deadheading throughout the season will promote new blooms. I read on one site that butterfly bushes do not drop their old blooms. I’ll have to watch for that this season.

Sometime mid-season last year, our two butterfly bushes began to wither a bit. Since the plants are supposed to be fairly drought resistant, I think the odd behavior was a result of pests. I found this recipe for a simple soap spray to apply to the undersides of the leaves:
  • 1 tsp vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp dish soap
  • 1 quart water
The creator of this mix sites the only drawback being extreme sun plus oil and water droplets causes sunburn on the leaves. She recommends spraying in later afternoon or twilight. Oh, and watch out for the bees and ladybugs! Those are the good guys.

Finally, here’s a bonus of tonight’s homework. I found a fellow Michigan gardener! I would like to hunt down and explore more gardening blogs this weekend, hopefully selecting a few to follow on a regular basis. I’m so new to this hobby, any type of guidance would be a plus. 

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