Butterfly Bush

dancer40(9)August 22, 2011

I am still new at this gardening and one reason I never thought I could was because of my fear of bees and wasps. I wasn't going to plant any flowers just herbs and veggies, but I have morning glories, clematis, bouganvilla, jasmine, heliotrope and gardenias. I am proud of myself now I only get scared of the big bumble bees or black ones. There is one that particularly likes the flowers from my Jack B Little Pumpkin and when I see him I run inside and let him buzz around LOL. Anyway... I have been lucky not to plant anything that attracts tons of bees like salvia or lavender-if I see something at the nursery that lot's of bees are around I move on. My question is if I plant some Butterfly Bush seeds will I attract a ton of bees or wasps? I love Butterflys and Hummingbirds and I know bees are beneficial, but I don't want a LOT of them buzzing around. So far what I have on the patio all in containers and balcony have not been magnets for bees and I would like to keep it that way. Also can this bush grow in California? I live in Rancho Santa Margarita.

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wcgypsy(10 / Sunset 23)

On our property, we occasionally get bees swarming, making temporary hives (3 times in the last 3 years, thousands of bees), last year they were hanging just above my head from the pine tree under which I was working. We have right now 3 yellow jacket nests going in a 3 different spots in the ground, we have lots and lots of bees, they're everywhere. I have been stung twice in about 30 years, each time from a bee flying in the window of the car while on the road. Unless you're allergic to bee stings, please don't worry about them. If you're not allergic to bees, even if you get stung, you put some ice on it and keep doing whatever you were doing...truly, you don't need to panic about the bees.

    Bookmark   August 22, 2011 at 7:38PM
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Bob_B(Sunset 14, Ca.)

As said in the previous post, there is no reason for undue fear of bees. Bees are not antagonistic, especially the "big black" ones you mentioned. They are probably carpenter bees, which act aggressively sometimes but generally are not. Wasps (yellow jackets) are very aggressive. Give way to them. They anger easily. Should you have a nest on your property, you can call the county ( at least in my county), and they will send someone out to destroy it. Bumble bees and honey bees (introduced African honey bees excepted)are very gentle unless you accidentally corner them.

I really enjoy watching the bees in my yard, especially the big, bumbling carpenter bees. They love Salvias!

    Bookmark   August 22, 2011 at 8:39PM
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wcgypsy(10 / Sunset 23)

Yep, they do...I grow tons of salvias...lol..

    Bookmark   August 22, 2011 at 8:54PM
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chas045(7b)

I come from CA but recently moved to North Carolina where butterfly bushes grow, and mis-clicked on the CA forum and saw your post. I lived in the SF Bay Area and never noticed any growing. I am wondering if they like the high humidity that we have back here in NC.

In any case, unless there are two unrelated 'butterfly bush' plants, they do not easily grow from seeds (we just had a thread on the subject in the Carolina Forum).

And on bees: I would like to second bob b. Bees almost never bother anyone, but yellow jackets will go after you if you step on their home which is unfortunately in the ground. You CAN go out in the evening and pour poison down the hole and no more yellow jackets.

    Bookmark   August 23, 2011 at 9:09AM
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wcgypsy(10 / Sunset 23)

Bear in mind that wasps and yellowjackets are also beneficial. They feed their young on insects that would other wise damage your plants and crops.

    Bookmark   August 23, 2011 at 4:02PM
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hosenemesis(SoCal Sunset 19 USDA 8b)

Dancer, you're doing a great job confronting your bee fear. One small step at a time. Some day you might even build a bee house for the native species!

I have found that the large black carpenter bees prefer large trumpet-shaped flowers, like your pumpkin flowers. They love my brugmansias, squash blossoms, and foxgloves. I don't think they would be attracted to Buddleia butterfly bushes. You and Chas may be talking about asclepias/milkweed, also called butterfly bush, and if that is what you are talking about, I don't think the big guys generally go for that either.

European honey bees, however, may be attracted to it. But if you can tolerate the number of them on your heliotrope, you can probably tolerate them on a buddleia or milkweed- they have similar flower structures.

If you are talking about asclepias or milkweed flowers, there are issues other than bees to consider. You will attract monarch caterpillars, milkweed bugs, and milkweed aphids. The sap from milkweed is very bad for your corneas and can cause permanent damage, according to other folks here on Gardenweb. To be safe, you should wear glasses and gloves when weeding or trimming it. I do not believe it is any more of a bee magnet than other flowers, but European honey bees usually like flowers with lots of little florets, like lantana, sea holly, lavendar, and both kinds of butterfly bushes.

Renee

    Bookmark   August 23, 2011 at 11:14PM
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dancer40(9)

Thank you so much for your reply Renee. It was very helpful and informative. I am really trying to get better about the bees but that's why its a phobia its irrational and I know it. So those big black ones are called Carpenter bees-yes I have had nightmares about them. Anyway ... Yes I am talking about the Buddleia. I like the purple and pink flowers and am hoping to grow it from seed in a large container.

    Bookmark   August 23, 2011 at 11:58PM
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calistoga_al

Buddleia are easily grown from seed, but are not a California native,and do not reseed around. They do grow like gangbusters, with no fertilizer ever needed in normal garden soil. Sever spring pruning is needed to prevent them overgrowing their space yearly. Until the last few days I had little regard for yellow jackets. A mountain lion in our area, killed a deer inside our gate. Within 3 hours 10 buzzards were working on cleanup duty. Within 2 days nothing was left but bones. My neighbors workers removed the bones and what was left was taken care of by the yellow jackets and the ants. It is impressive to see how nature cleans up after its waste. Al

    Bookmark   August 24, 2011 at 8:57AM
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chas045(7b)

Clear description Renee, but I was talking about Buddleia daviddii sp? like dancer 40. I agree with Al, they grow agressively and need no care.

Unfortunately, I am now also newly familiar with carpenter bees that also didn't exist in the bay area (we had bumblebees). The carpenter bees bore carpenter bee size holes into wood (your house) and deposit their young. A fine sport around North Carolina is to smack them out of the air with a badminton racket.

    Bookmark   August 24, 2011 at 10:19AM
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hoosierquilt USDA 10A Sunset 23 Vista CA

Dancer, my yard is absolutely crammed full of salvia, rosemary, milkweed and lavender. My backyard hums I have so many honeybees. I also have a large blue morning glory vine on my back fence that goes down to my lower yard (yes, yes, I know, I hate the stuff since I have to keep it in check with a machete, but my hubby loves the big blue flowers), and it is full of busy carpenter bees. I am in my yard gardening all the time up against all these plants and have never been stung. I have to be careful not to go out barefoot (our pool is out back, so sometimes that's not possible), in case I accidentally step on a bee, so we do watch where we walk, but the bees are very busy doing their jobs, and rarely if ever bother me. Once in a great while, a honeybee will try to rest on me, but I just move away. I, too, used to be afraid of bees, but when we moved to this new home, I realized I had better get over it, quick! Buddleia will attract both butterflies and honeybees. Not so much carpenter bees, as Renee mentioned. I see the carpenter bees over on my morning glories almost exclusively, as well as my Brug, and rarely over on the lavender. They actually, are much less likely to approach me than the honeybees. I was walking to get the mail yesterday, and my neighbor's large buddleia bush was visible over their retaining wall. It was very busy with Monarchs, Viceroys and honeybees in about equal proportions. And, there are some newer buddleias available that stay a little neater, and don't grow into monsterous, gangly bushes. I do love their flowers, though, they are quite lovely and the butterflies really do love them. You might want to also think about planting passaflora, as that is the host plant for the Viceroy butterfly. Mine looks pretty tattered between the snails and the Viceroy catepillars, but most of it is hidden with the Morning Glory vine that it grows with. And, it is quite a site to see 40 or 50 Viceroys flitting about the fence in front of our patio!

Patty S.

    Bookmark   August 24, 2011 at 10:53AM
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dancer40(9)

Thanks for the information. My Morning Glories are just getting started. I only have a back patio and everything is in containers-so its all growing slowly. I have some Clematis which I know the carpenter bee likes but it's barely hanging on. I had it in too much shade and then I moved it-it's showing new growth, but very slowly finally I did get a flower but the squirrel got it so that was the end of that. The squirrels keep getting the seedlings of the Morning Glories so I moved them up to the balcony until they are more established. I haven't seen any bees on them but I only have maybe 4 blooms on them. I really like them because for a novice like me they are so easy to grow and I love blue and purple and the scarlett ones. I carpenter bee came by this morning but the pumpkin flowers are closed so he moved on. I am getting some little pumpkins though. I hope to have some by halloween.

    Bookmark   August 24, 2011 at 12:14PM
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hoovb zone 9 sunset 23

What you could do is focus on a foliage garden. It is the flowers that attract bees. There are many plants with colorful foliage, and the color is year-round.

    Bookmark   August 25, 2011 at 3:38PM
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hoosierquilt USDA 10A Sunset 23 Vista CA

Dancer, start watching your carpenter bees from a bit of a distance. They are actually kind of comical to watch. They are very intent on their job, and they are so big and fat, the weigh down the flowers. They are very fun to watch, actually. If you have a camera, start taking pictures of them while they work. Photos of your flowers with bees and birds can be very pretty. This will help you to desensitize yourself a little, so you can defuse your fear and enjoy nature more in your garden.

Patty S.

    Bookmark   August 26, 2011 at 10:48AM
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dancer40(9)

So I was walking around Lowes the other day and saw a Butterfly Bush. I didn't even know they carried them. It was covered with honey bees, but I was able to stand next to it-that's an improvement. I couldn't bring myself to pick it up and put it in my cart though,so I will start with seeds.

    Bookmark   August 30, 2011 at 9:08PM
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hosenemesis(SoCal Sunset 19 USDA 8b)

Woot! Good work, Dancer.
There's a new dwarf variety too. Very nice size- I saw one at HD.
Renee

    Bookmark   August 30, 2011 at 11:40PM
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Sue-in-LA(Sunset 24)

I'm a long-time reader of this forum and a relatively new gardener. I joined to ask a question here. Last year, I bought a butterfly bush. It was supposed to be compact, but I quickly realized that it had been mislabeled. It's huge and I need to move it to another spot. Someone here made a comment that it should be severely pruned in the spring. I was thinking of doing the pruning and transplanting this fall, probably next month. Can I go ahead or should I wait?

    Bookmark   September 10, 2011 at 1:28PM
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lgteacher(SCal)

Transplanting your buddleia can be done when it cools off. That will give it a chance to grow more roots during the winter when we typically get more rain. I prune mine throughout the year as I deadhead, and then cut back more severely when it is finished blooming.

Dancer - keep an eye on the morning glories. They can be worse than kudzu. Have a pair of clippers handy.

Here is a link that might be useful: What's Growing On?

    Bookmark   September 10, 2011 at 6:31PM
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Sue-in-LA(Sunset 24)

Thanks, lgteacher. That's exactly what I'll do. I was a bit surprised how large it grew within just one season. I actually had a conversation with an employee at the nursery where I bought it about it being a compact variety. I was expecting the height and width to be about 5'. It's easily twice that size now. Next year, I'll also do more pruning throughout the summer. But, I'm still happy with it. My neighbor, whose backyard is completely bare, was so impressed with it that she bought one for herself.

    Bookmark   September 11, 2011 at 1:19AM
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