When to cut back buddleia – five top tips for maintaining a perfect garden

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Buddleias derive from Asia and are easy to grow in any garden. They need annual pruning to look their best. Hardy buddleia plants can be grown at any time of the year, but you need to water them well if you plant them in the summer in full leaf.

Buddleia, known as buddleja davidii, is a shrub with multiple shoots which tend to grow and flower fast.

This butterfly bush is a favourite of many gardeners because of its delicious fragrance and its attractiveness to pollinators.

Buddleia is an easy and fast-growing shrub that flourishes best in sunny areas with well-drained soil.

There are larger and smaller varieties that are suitable for borders and pots.

The flower heads on this butterfly bush are full of nectar and these are a magnet for many insects.

The flowers come in a variety of shades including blue, pink, purple, white and yellow.

The plant tends to flower continuously for four to six weeks in the late summer period.

Varieties of this plant can become very tatty over time if they are not pruned regularly and properly.

When to cut back buddleia

You should deadhead your buddleia plant in the late spring period to encourage more flowers to form.

In addition, this will prevent the shrubs from becoming too large over time.

Cutting back your plant in the spring period will lead to flowering later in the season which is also very helpful for pollinators looking for nectar and pollen in the late summer.

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Make sure to hard prune your buddleias in April or May.

At this time, cut back all the dead wood on your plant to help it maintain a good shape.

Trim back the top growth to around half its height using secateurs which will make it easier to see how you are progressing.

Cut back the thick woody stems to around 12 inches above the ground, using a pair of loopers or a pruning saw.

You should prune just above a bud or a growing shoot.

If you would like the plant to grow taller than three metres, you should leave the stems up to 24 inches long.

Make sure to remove any dead stubs and branches on the main trunk to minimise the chance of dieback.

Also, thin out any crossing branches to prevent rubbing and remove any thin twiggy growth sprouting from the base.

Buddleia is very hardy and can manage if you cut back the plant vigorously.

Top tips when caring for buddleia plants

  1. Grow buddleias in well-drained soil in full sun or partial shade.
  2. You can encourage buddleias to flower later in the season, by cutting them down to the ground in May which benefits butterflies such as the small tortoiseshell.
  3. If you are planting buddleias into heavy clay soil you should add a handful of grit to your planting hole for added drainage.
  4. You should avoid over-fertilising butterfly bushes because too much fertility promotes leaf growth over flower production.
  5. Do not plant buddleias under trees.

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