Should I deadhead Buddleia? The TOP reason why you should

Gardening: Expert demonstrates how to deadhead flowers

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Deadheading your buddleia is as easy as picking away spent blossoms to encourage new growth but doing this at the right time is crucial to controlling this lush shrub. Keeping this seed rich plant looking neat and vibrant by pruning will help you get the most out of its colourful, honey scented petals – and this quick guide will tell you exactly how to do it.

How quickly do buddleia grow?

The lilac buddleia which is most common around Britain is known for its unique ability to grow anywhere and has been coined as the ‘bombsite buddleia’, as it can be seen to flourish across railways, fences and almost any patch of derelict ground – spreading its long, arching branches.

These slender clumps of flowers can be seen in a range of colours, usually lilac but also blue, deeper purple or white with their blossoms full of seeds ready to germinate.

It is the plant’s highly dispersible seeds that make deadheading so crucial for the Buddleia as a means of controlling the growth of this voluminous garden plant.

Why you should deadhead buddleia

Like many other flowering shrubs, the buddleia must be tended to at the right time of year to catch dying blooms and spent branches.

A general rule of thumb is to deadhead your plants after they flower, but when it comes to the buddleia there is another very important reason to deadhead this ripe flowering butterfly bush.

Controlling the seeds on this nectar-rich plant is important for the appearance and health of the plant, but also for the wider status of the buddleia as a species in the UK.

Deadheading your butterfly bushes play an important part in controlling the extensive population of this ‘beloved’ garden plant in a bid to prevent unnecessary danger to native vegetation and biodiversity.

How to deadhead a butterfly bush

Flowering in late summer, the butterfly bush requires twice-yearly pruning to maintain its bright pastel blossoms.

The first pruning should be a hard-cutting in the spring and should aim to prevent the plant from producing seeds in order to control the size and shape of the plant.

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Cut back all of the woody stalks by about two-thirds, to a low framework of permanent stems in early spring (late March to mid-April).

Deadheading your buddleia vigorously in the Spring will put the plant in good stead ahead of its flowering period in the summer and encourage stronger growth from the base of the shrub.

The Second Pruning should be done in Autumn after the plant has reached full flower in late summer.

Prune away all of the tips to remove any faded flowers and developin seeds to reduce the chances of butterfly bushes escaping from the garden and into any surrounding fields or woodlands.


  • Spent blossoms are easily identified by their muddy brown colour and weak texture.
  • Lightly tend to spend blossoms and weak branches throughout the growing season as flowers bloom and fade and to prevent unwanted growth through seeding.

Buddleia are a hive of activity in the summer when they are in full bloom, attracting butterflies, bees and other pollinators to feed on the nectar-filled flowers, so if you’re looking to attract more nature to your garden this bright shrub will do the trick.

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