Monday, July 30, 2012

How I Deadhead Butterfly Bushes

I've mentioned in the past that once in awhile, I remember to look at my Statcounter, and one of the things I check on is what kind of searches people have done that led them to my blog.  Do you ever do that?  One of the most common ones is whether one can eat ornamental sweet potatoes.  Another is whether you can eat the stems and leaves of regular sweet potato plants.  I know you can, but don't know the details.  (Are the ornamental vines edible?)  If you have knowledge or experience cooking and eating them, please leave a comment and let us know.  I'd like to try them myself.  (I think I've seen finished dishes with them on FB or other blogs, but since I didn't try it then, I don't remember what I may have read.)

For some reason, maybe the words in the search, people have been coming to my blog trying to see if they can deadhead or cut back their butterfly bushes.  I took some photos of my second trim of the season so I could show how I do it.  I should mention that I am buying more and more plants that are native, and am avoiding plants that tend to spread farther than they should.  Butterfly bushes are considered invasive in some places, so this post is not an endorsement of growing them, and it may not even be the recommended way to take care of them, but it's how I do it.

I cut this back July 3rd because we have company on the Fourth, and there were a number of bees on the blooms close to where we walk back and forth between the front and back yards, and I wanted to insure the safety of both bees and humans.

There were both spent and new blooms on the bush. 

 I cut at the place next to where the new blooms or buds were.  I cut close to the base, but left a little bit.

This isn't the same one I cut in the previous photo, but if you look at the top two blooms, you can see one of the cuts I made in between them.   I see there is a cut I made on the right side of the photo as well. 

In some cases, I cut further back to make the bush a bit smaller.  Here are some buds that will be blooming soon.

I cut finished flowers off at any time in the season, sometimes a few at a time, and other times, I cut off stems that are sprawling.  I also cut some of the stems on the top left that were sticking up taller than the rest of the plant.  Someone else could probably shape this up better, but I am satisfied for now.

I pushed the stems down 3 times in this 5 gallon bucket.  These ended up on the compost pile.  I have never had this kind reseed. 

Here's a closer view.  No more brown blooms!

As I was about to put my things away, this skipper landed on a bloom.  I was pleased to see it.

If you have another way you deadhead or trim your butterfly bushes, feel free to share.  I normally use pruners instead of garden scissors, but these were handy and clean.  I clean my pruners and garden scissors with rubbing alcohol.

Happy Gardening!

Added a few minutes after publishing:

Well, I need to tell you something embarrassing.  I went back to see what other searches people have been doing when they ended up on my blog, because I forgot to do that before I published this.  I saw there was a link to the post where a person who did this search landed, and it was a September 2009 one, where I pretty much did the same post as this.  It's here, now, so I'll leave it.  I got a number of comments on that one, and most people said they do deadhead theirs. 

Oh, and many of the other searches have to do with folks looking for ideas for gardening in corners, which is because of my blog title.  Some also have looked for ideas for planting around fire hydrants.  LOL  I think it's cool that searches of individual plants have led to some of my photos, and then, the blog.  We need to be careful with that, though, because sometimes I have been a little off, or a different plant was shown in the search than what was supposed to.  I've noticed that with searches I've done, as well.

What searches lead folks to your blogs?


  1. I dead head my butterfly bush too. It is amazing how it will keep producing.
    People find me a lot because of my squash bug hunting, flower tower and containers in general.

  2. I'm a terrible pruner. It's a job I don't care for, and admit I just hack away at things. I should be more careful.
    Your butterfly bush is beautiful. I've never had luck with them up here. I gave up after the third try--they don't survive my winters.

  3. I deadhead my butterfly bush the same way you do, and it seems to work for me. Last fall, I cut it all the way back to about 2 ft off the ground and it came back with a vengeance this year with lots of gorgeous blooms. Surprised me, because many of the bushes in my yard won't bloom the following year when I do that. I just checked my popular searches and it appears that the majority of my readers are looking for planter boxes. Probably because of my post about the planter boxes my hubby made for me out of pallets. Love your blog, btw. Your garden pictures are so refreshing to look at while I drink my coffee each morning. :)

  4. Hi Sue. I love this posting. I did not know that you could deadhead the butterfly bushes. I will remember this great tip.

  5. It's fascinating, isn't it, to see what posts are the most popular and draw the most traffic. So funny about "corner" and "fire hydrant" being search terms that attract people to your blog. And then of course you share wonderful information and photos when people get to your blog--so then they're hooked like I am! I don't have a Butterfly Bush, but if I ever get one now I'll know how to prune it. :)

  6. thanks for sharing.

  7. I used to have a buddleja too, but despite being cut down completely every spring and a lighter chop in late summer it grew enormously big. I simply didn’t have room for a 7 ft tall and 5ft wide plant in my tiny garden so it ended up on the council’s compost heap! It had lovely dark purple flowers and the butterflies loved it so it was a shame to see it go.
    As for search entries...I have had some lovely ones over the years, just had a look at this week’s ones and what about this one: “can I call a cat bundle of joy?” or this one “squeaky beetles”! I have written about my cat many times, and about red lily beetles, so I guess that’s why they have ended up on my blog :-)


I welcome comments and questions from anyone, including those who do it anonymously. Some people find my posts by doing searches, and I like hearing from them. I guess spammers won't even read this message, but I will delete spam as soon as I see it.