Butterfly bush - sun/shade question

jasenka(US 6b / Europe 7/8)August 8, 2007

Hi all,

I just ordered 2 butterfly bushes (Harlequin and Black Knight) and when they arrive in september plan to plant them next to each other on a spot in my back yard where they should have sun from about 11 am (in the heat of the summer - earlier and later then mid June it would be from noon) to sunset with a breaf shadow around 4 pm (about 20 minutes) from a nearby tree.

So, my question is, from your experience, do you think this is good place for them, and will they flower well there?

Also the soil is mostly clay and water has hard time in absorbing into soil (when I water the plants the water stays on the ground making puddles for about 2-4 minutes before it is fully absorbed), so I guess it would be best to put the BB in raised beds, right?

Thank you for answers :))

Jasenka

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mcronin(6/7swVA)

Jasenka,

I'm not an expert, but I've lost only ONE of my 60 butterfly bushes in our one-acre butterfly sanctuary since 1995. Your locations will provide plenty of sun. I don't think you should use raised beds because the roots spread so much over the years. I have horrible red clay on rather steep slopes and have to amend all my plant beds. For my butterfly bushes I dig beds about 2-feet deep and 4-6 feet wide and remove the red clay. I add A MINIMUM of 80 pounds of top soil, 40 pounds of composted cow manure and 40 pounds of mulch and mix it up thoroughly, and walk on it to firm the soil. I then dig a hole for the plant, fill the hole with water and let it sink in, plant the butterfly bush and firm the soil around it, water it thoroughly again, mulch around it with 3-4 inches of mulch, and water it weekly (IF NEEDED) for the first year. Each year in the late fall, I add mulched leaves around each plant to slowly improve and maintain the soil. I fertilize each butterfly bush once a year in early spring with slow-release fertilizer ( something close to 10-10-10). I deadhead each butterfly bush at least once a week to keep them looking good, to reduce the liklihood of "self seeding, and to help them save their "energy" for more blooming. If you want evewn more blooms and/or want to control the height/width of any butterfly bush, cut it back in the early spring. I cut many of mine back to about 2-3 feet above the ground. some people cut their butterfly bushes back to almost ground level. There is no magic cut-back rule; do what fits your situation. For example, the big butterfly bush with 15-30 butterflies on it much of the day near the top of our butterfly sanctuary that I've posted about has NOT been cut back for two years. I want it to spread because the butterflies love the high places on this butterfly bush.

Good luck with your butterfly bushes.

mike

    Bookmark   August 8, 2007 at 9:27AM
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jasenka(US 6b / Europe 7/8)

Thank you Mike so such quick and concise answer. You helped me so much!!

I better now go and start preparing the soil, just hope I'll finish in time for planting the bushes, since the last time we digged the soil was to put a plastic pond, and it took us whole month for 1.6 x 2.6 x 4 feet hole because the soil here is filled with stones and gravel as well as it is clay...well it will be a nice hard exercise and I DO have to lose some extra weight lol :)))

Thnx again :)

Jasenka

    Bookmark   August 8, 2007 at 9:56AM
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mcronin(6/7swVA)

Jasenka,

Now I'm worried that my approach may be TOO LABOR INTENSIVE for your situation. Maybe you should wait for advice from people who actually know what they're doing. I learned mostly by trial and error and must admit that I may be going overboard in preparing the beds.

mike

    Bookmark   August 8, 2007 at 8:20PM
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jasenka(US 6b / Europe 7/8)

Mike,

From what I've heard from you I know YOU KNOW exactly what you are doing :)). And I plan to combine your method with raised bed, since I plan to plant BB in front of a 1 foot high ledge, so I just have to dig a small amout of soil and make the raised bed on other side :))
Again, thank you for your help :))

Jasenka

    Bookmark   August 9, 2007 at 2:47AM
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