Small Buddlejas with Big Flower Power!
The spring flowers are fading, summer is here and there’s even more to enjoy in our gardens. One of the most wonderful summer flowering shrubs is the Butterfly Bush, also known as Buddleja. It’s popular not only for its large colourful fragrant flowers but the added interest of it being attractive to butterflies that enjoy the sweet nectar that its flowers produce. Bees too!
There was a time when most buddlejas were very large shrubs but nowadays there are much smaller varieties to suit smaller gardens and flower borders of any size. Some are even small enough to grow in containers on patios or in terrace gardens.
The Buddleja Chip series are very dwarf shrubs that produce typical buddleja shaped flowers of blue, red, white, purple and lilac. The varieties vary slightly in height, but all are suitable for growing in containers.
Another group of buddlejas are the ‘Buzz’ series, these are specially bred to be compact and grow about four feet in height, but have the large flowers that you would expect to see on the larger varieties. They’re compact and small enough to grow in containers too.
When planting in containers its best to use a loam based compost such as John Innes no. 3, and remember to give them some winter protection.
An interesting group of buddlejas are the dwarf varieties named after butterflies. These are ‘Adonis Blue’, ‘Camberwell Beauty’, ‘Marbled White’ and ‘Peacock’. If you look at pictures of these butterflies you can probably work out what the colours of the flowers might be. I planted a row of these and surrounded them with red and white Centranthus in my front garden a few months before that very hard winter of 2010. They all survived, the ‘Peacock’ variety is my favourite!
A new variety for us in garden centre this year is an American hybrid called Buddleja ‘Flower Power’. It grows just over six feet tall and has unusual multi-coloured flowers of violet, pink and orange. Makes me wish I had room for another!