Buddleia - Buddleja alternifolia

Buddleia - Buddleja alternifolia

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The buddleia constitute a family of about one hundred shrubs, both evergreen and deciduous, originating in Asia and southern Africa, also widespread in Europe and on the American continent. They consist of tufts of long arched stems, covered with long lanceolate leaves, dark green, with the lower white or gray page. From the beginning of summer until autumn they produce large ears of beautiful tubular flowers, perfumed with honey and very colorful, pink, white or lilac, which attract butterflies.


The buddleias are easy to grow, long flowering shrubs and are available in many colors and sizes. For this reason they are very common in our country, in Europe and in the United States, although they originate from Asia, Africa and South America.
In recent years they have become increasingly popular in our gardens, mainly due to their ability to attract insects, especially colorful butterflies (they are also known as "butterfly shrubs").
It is important, however, to point out that these plants have become very invasive, especially along the course of the rivers, taking away space from native essences. In some regions this is a real alarm and serious thought is being given to limiting the sale and planting.
To limit the possible damage it is extremely important to monitor the plants and keep them always clean, eliminating as soon as possible the exhausted floral cobs, absolutely before they go to seed.
Indeed, it is precisely the extreme capacity to self-demystify that makes the buddleia so invasive. A single specimen, if not controlled, can produce up to 3 million seeds in a single year which, among other things, germinate with great ease.

Pruning of budleia

The buddleia is a fairly vigorous plant that is able to grow discreetly every year. To give it new stimuli to produce new branches and new beautiful flowers, it is necessary to prune them annually in a fairly decisive manner and the plant will react in the best way. Therefore annually in the period between the months of February and March depending on the areas and the year (based on what is rigid the winter), one must proceed with the pruning of the buddleia. To prune it, we will use very sharp scissors and shears that should be sterilized before use.
With this pruning operation we will have to go and cut all the jets grown in the previous year, leaving only 10-15 cm from the base of the branches. Without this we will remove all the dry, weak or badly made branches trying to leave more space for the healthy and vigorous branches.
In the pruning of the buddleia we will have to free the central area of ​​the plant going to remove the branches that grow inside the plant trying to let more light penetrate in this area. In general with pruning we will have to try to give the plant a certain balance on the foliage and branches.

Buddleia davidii

This species is by far the most widespread in our country and is found rather commonly on the market.
It is a deciduous shrub, very resistant and floriferous. It has lance-shaped leaves ranging from medium green to dark green, whose lower lamina is however greyish, as is the whole of the plant. It forms a roundish shrub (if cured) and with slightly arched branches ... The flowers are produced on the new vegetation, starting from the summer. It can reach 5 meters in height, but lately, several dwarf cultivars have spread to small spaces and are often cultivated even in large containers.
in this respect it is very tolerant. It grows well both in heavy and clayey substrates, and in light or medium-textured ones.
The only special care it requires is consistency in watering. It is a plant that naturally lives on the river bed and therefore needs to have constant access to water. This does not mean that if we omit this aspect the plant will deteriorate, but it will certainly lose it in beauty and in abundance of flowering. It is good, therefore, in the absence of precipitation, to proceed at least once a week.
These shrubs bloom profusely for many months. To support the production of new cobs it is advisable to distribute a good quantity of slow-release organic fertilizer for flowering plants at the beginning of the season. It is in any case always a good idea to add a little liquid product to each irrigation.
At the arrival of winter a mulch based on mature manure will contribute both to the protection of the root system and to the revitalization of the soil.
This species is very resistant to cold and generally has no problems up to at least 800 meters of altitude. Moreover, even if the branches are damaged by frost, you can always resort to a drastic pruning that will only be beneficial to our bush.
As we have already said, it is extremely important to deal frequently with cleaning from spent flowers to avoid compromising the surrounding environment. In addition to this, the only important cure for maintaining the young and floriferous specimen is the dedication to pruning at the end of winter. It is possible to proceed in different ways, but essentially, given that the flowers are born from the new vegetation, it is important to stimulate the growth of new jets. It is usually used to cut leaving at most three buds from the bottom so that the shrub is completely renewed.

Buddleia alternifolia

It is a shrub with a deciduous leaf which is more compact and less erect than the other species (it reaches a maximum of 4 meters between height and diameter). It has alternate leaves, small, lanceolate, dark green on the upper lamina and glaucous on the lower one. It flowers on the vegetation of the previous year producing axillary racemes about 3 cm long, fragrant, light purple, very numerous, in June. It is literally covered and is therefore decorative and perhaps the most spectacular.
It requires the same care as davidii, with the only difference that it absolutely should not be pruned in early spring. At that time it will only intervene for cleaning from broken, dead or crooked branches. For the rest you can check slightly at the end of flowering by encouraging the production of secondary branches for the following year.

Buddleia globosa

It is an evergreen shrub native to Chile and the Perщ. It is the only American species, but it was the first to be discovered and imported into our continent.
In temperate climates (therefore in the Center-South of our peninsula) the leaves can be persistent. In the Center-North, on the other hand, it is mostly a deciduous shrub that must be protected from frost by means of sheets of non-woven fabric and a thick mulch. A useful trick is to place it in a sheltered and absolutely non-humid area in the winter months.
It has a widespread habit and lance-shaped leaves, up to 20 cm long, dark green on the upper side and brownish on the lower one. It generally grows up to 5 meters in height and in diameter.
From May to early July it produces abundant globular inflorescences, about 3 cm in diameter. The color in the species is orange yellow, but other nuances are also available, especially in some hybrids.
For the rest, the same care and precautions are to be adopted for this species as for davidii.

Budleia species for mild climates

Buddleia asiatica is a shrub or small tree that reaches about 3 meters in height and blooms in January-February. It is suitable for gardens on the Riviera or in the Center-South. The flowers, white, are very fragrant, the leaves small and evergreen. It wants warm exposures and well-drained soil.
Buddleia followiana reaches 4 meters in height and blooms between September and November. It grows vigorous and erect. The young branches are covered with a light down and the leaves, up to 35 cm long, are glaucous, but over time they turn to dark green. The inflorescences are terminal panniculus generally of lilac or purple color. There are also white or pink cultivars.
Buddleia auricolata which comes to us from South Africa, can reach 4 meters in height and bloom in mid-autumn. The leaves are lanceolate, small, dark green on the upper side and silver on the lower one. The flowers, panicle, white and yellow, are axillary or apical, very fragrant and rise on the new vegetation. It wants warm and protected positions, limestone soil, light and well drained.

Budleia propagation

All the buddleias multiply easily both by seed and by cutting.
The seeds should be placed in lettorino in a warm greenhouse, towards the end of winter. They germinate within a month. We then proceed to various toppings. Plants are ready for final planting generally the following year.
By vegetative means, both herbaceous and woody segments can be taken and planted in a very nutritious soil, on a warm bed and in a shady position. Rooting generally takes place in two months. They can then be transplanted into larger containers.
Even the layering and the offshoot are always quite good, especially if it is done at the beginning of summer.

Varieties and cultivars

As we have said, it is a much loved plant. This is why the breeders have dedicated themselves to the search for new varieties capable of satisfying the needs of all green lovers.

  • Buddleja davidii

    The irrigations, during the summer, must be regular, especially if there are particularly dry periods; the

    visit: buddleja davidii
  • Butterfly tree

    The butterfly tree, also known as buddleia, is a bushy shrub native to Asia that has been imposed.

    visit: butterfly tree

Family and genderCultivarHeightColor flowers leaves

Up to 2 meters

Rose with white center
Black Knight Up to 3 meters
Dark violet
Ellen's Blue Up to 1.5 meters
Harlequin Up to 2.5 meters
Violet, variegated leaves
Marbled White Up to 1.5 meters
White with yellow center
Nanho Blue Up to 120 cm
light blue
Nanho White Up to 120 cm
Niche's Choice Up to 150 cm
Rose with yellow center
Royal Red Up to 3 meters
Nanhoensis blue Up to 150 cm
Blue with yellow center

Up to 4 meters

Purple flowers and silvery leaves