Fragrant tots

During last few years the butterfly bush (Buddleja davidii) has become very popular in Lithuania. Although they are not fully hardy here, and in cold and severe winters sometimes die, large fragrant inflorescences and profuse flowering compensate for all shortcomings. Butterfly bushes flower in waves, from July to late autumn, and their flower heads smell strongly of honey and are a true butterfly magnet. Unfortunately, in dry weather the flowering is over soon, so the spent, unsightly flowerheads should be removed promtly. The plant itself soon looses attractive shape, and therefore needs constant pruning and shaping. The best way to go about this is to remove all growth in autumn, leaving a small stump close to ground level and draw the soil around it. As a rule of thumb, all butterfly bushes left unpruned and unprotected for winter die down to snow level (or to soil level). A plant, coppiced to the ground level, will produce shoots and flowers a little later than usual, however, the leaves will be lusher, while the inflorescences will grow larger and more intense in color. It grows 1,5 to 2 m tall. Unpruned and unshaped butterfly bushes grow taller, more airy, and inflorescences are smaller. It is best not to use these plants in a mixed border, since for the majority of the year there will be an unsightly hole in the planting, and they also are not a good choice for flowerbeds due to their size.

However, the brand new cultivar ‚Blue Chip‘ is perfect for planting in mixed borders. It is a compact plant with a shapely crown, growing no more than 60 cm tall (40 cm in our climate). Younger plants flower for a few weeks, while mature specimen provide flower show from mid-July to frosts. Inflorescences are lavender colored and compact, just like the plant itself. The spent blooms are soon hidden by the new budleja_ruosiasi_zydet1ones, therefore there is no need for deadheading. It does not produce any seeds or a very few ones.

‚Blue Chip‘ needs to be grown in a sunny spot, fertile and free draining soil. It can be grown in rockeries, flower borders, is also suitable for planting as a part of urban landscape due to its resistance to drought. It is suitable for growing in pots, containers or baskets alongside other drought resistant plants, such as verbenas or coreopsis. Looks especially impressive when planted in groups of 10 or more plants, and hence is suitable for using in large plantings. Flowers are a true magnet for butterflies, bees and other insects. In autumn branches should be reduced leaving a compact framework. Alternatively, you can leave the growth over the winter, cutting them back in spring, as soon as plants show any signs of life.

© Giedra Bartas, 2016

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