Great Plants this Month Summer

Buddleja alternifolia AGM

alternate-leaved butterfly bush –

image of Louise Sims
Louise Sims

Almost exactly five years ago, we took part in our village’s open gardens scheme and I remember well how many visitors stopped to admire our butterfly bush – it really stole the show!  I also remember wishing that I had taken many more cuttings as so many people wanted to buy one.

This certainly is an elegant and distinctive buddleja and it can be grown either as a large shrub or as a small tree. Vigorous and fast growing, it is lax in habit and if left to its own devices, needs plenty of space. If however, you want a small tree and are prepared to put in a little more effort, then buy a plant that has an obvious main stem (or create one) and give it a good strong stake from the start. From late spring to early summer the arching stems bear dense clusters of fragrant mauve flowers on the previous year’s growth.

Whether you grow it as a shrub or small tree, judicious pruning, immediately after flowering, will be needed to keep it in good shape. It would make a great focal point in a summer border but do remember to leave access for the pruning – maybe a circle of stepping stones around the base.

The narrow grey green foliage is more delicate than many other buddlejas but it is very hardy in most areas of the UK. Happiest in full sun, it’s a magnet for all sorts of pollinators.

It was introduced in 1915 by British plant collectors,  William Purdom and Reginald Farrer who discovered it in the Kansu province of China, where it grows in thickets on river banks and along dried up streams.

NB Louise has published a beautifully produced book of her plant profiles – A Plant for Each Week of the Year. It costs £9.99 and is for sale in our online shop here.

More NB If you’re not already a subscriber and you’d like a bit more gardening chitchat from the3growbags, please type your email address here and we’ll send you a new post every Saturday morning.

By the3growbags

We're three sisters who love gardening, plants and even the science of horticulture but we're not all experts. We'd love everyone even remotely interested in their gardens to be part of our blogsite.

2 replies on “Buddleja alternifolia AGM”

Yes, Buddleia alternifolia is a lovely plant but in my view Buddleia agathosma (sp?) is even better: heavenly scented flowers in April, followed by huge, silvery felted leaves. I love it!

Hello Sue, I haven’t grown this beautiful buddleja and am not very familiar with it. I’m wondering how hardy it is – so much depends on location, aspect and soil. Thank you so much for leaving your comment.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.