Party Time at the Buddleja - You Know You Want a Butterfly Bush!

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It's Party Time

From sun-up to sun-down, it’s one rollicking party at the Buddleja. The daily customer turnover is freakishly huge, with patrons gorging themselves on free drinks and snacks. Every once in a while, some of the partiers get so loaded that they fall down and have a good deal of trouble getting back up. The other day, one of them packed so many snacks in his leg sacks, he lost his balance, fell off a flower, and dropped onto my glass-topped patio table. He was quite a sorry sight--flat on his back, legs kicking and wings whirring. I was about to go over and give him an assist, when he managed to right himself and get airborne. He looked like he wanted to make a bee line to the hive to unload his stash, but all he could achieve was a low-flying, crazy, crooked path. I watched him disappear around a corner of the house. I wished him good luck.

Usual Traffic at the Buddleja - Never a Dull Moment

I opened the Buddleja a few years ago with an astonishingly small investment of 20 USD. I don’t know of any bar and eatery that can make that claim, at least not these days. From the moment I opened , I had curious and enthusiastic patrons. Word got out quickly among the bee, butterfly, and moth networks, which apparently work faster than phone or Facebook. All flew in for the free food and drink, and also for the socializing. I guess you can say the Buddleja got good traffic from the beginning.

Most guests at the Buddleja have a bit more grace and couth than that carpenter bee who fell on his back. They move from one snack or drink to another with ease, being mostly respectful of a fellow patron’s personal bubble. On the other hand, some socialize with either procreation or aggression in mind. It’s interesting to watch their interplay.

Who Are These Buddleja Patrons?

By now you know I’m not talking about a new bar in my neck of the woods, but about the butterfly bush in my backyard.

The butterfly bush draws an impressive variety of patrons, not all of which are butterflies and moths. Where I am, in southeastern Pennsylvania in historic Bucks County, I welcome these special guests every season.

Monarch Butterflies

This monarch butterfly is enjoying a Buddleja Special.
This monarch butterfly is enjoying a Buddleja Special. | Source

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail Butterflies

This swallowtail is taking a break from the party on a nearby ewe tree.
This swallowtail is taking a break from the party on a nearby ewe tree. | Source

Spicebush Swallowtails

When I viewed this photo, I wondered at first if it were out of focus. But it's not. This swallowtail is  unique in that even while feeding, it continues to flutter its wings.
When I viewed this photo, I wondered at first if it were out of focus. But it's not. This swallowtail is unique in that even while feeding, it continues to flutter its wings. | Source

Hummingbird Hawk Moths

The hummingbird hawk moth is sometimes mistaken for a hummingbird.
The hummingbird hawk moth is sometimes mistaken for a hummingbird. | Source

Skipper Butterflies (Skipperjacks)

Skipperjacks are on the small side and don't sport dramatic color, but they are very active and fun to watch.
Skipperjacks are on the small side and don't sport dramatic color, but they are very active and fun to watch. | Source

Cabbage Whites

The larva of the cabbage white is a common cole crop pest, blending so well with broccoli florets that it's almost impossible to see. The adult is much more appealing.
The larva of the cabbage white is a common cole crop pest, blending so well with broccoli florets that it's almost impossible to see. The adult is much more appealing. | Source

Carpenter Bees

This carpenter bee is gathering nectar and pollen from the Buddleja.
This carpenter bee is gathering nectar and pollen from the Buddleja. | Source

Hummingbirds

The Rangy Butterfly Bush

This Buddleja Bar is topping 12 feet and looks like hell. But it invites the most beautiful butterflies, birds, and bees.
This Buddleja Bar is topping 12 feet and looks like hell. But it invites the most beautiful butterflies, birds, and bees. | Source

You Know You Want Your Own Buddleja - Butterfly Bush FAQs

Before you commit to a buddleja in your garden to enjoy the incredible wildlife this plant invites, you need to know these things:

  • Butterfly bushes are considered pests, meaning, they will thrive just about anywhere to the point of being invasive. This also means that they are easy to grow.
  • They are not very good-looking plants. They get rangy, their dead blossoms interfere with the colors of the new blossoms, and they are, overall, shaggy, at best.
  • Butterfly bushes seed themselves. Once you have a happy bush, you will find "babies" all over your garden in the spring. I've nurtured some of these, finding a place in my garden for them, but then gave them up, because...
  • Buddleja needs severe hacking in the spring. It needs to be cut back to 12 inches or so in the early spring, before new growth starts. By the time a butterfly bush is three or four years old, you almost need a chain saw for the task.
  • Butterfly bushes come in an astounding variety of colors. Shades of purple and lavender, yellow, white, and pale pink. But if someone breeds a red one, I'm going to be on that!
  • Dig a five-dollar hole for a one-dollar plant. Treat your butterfly bush like a tree when you plant it.
  • Check out this great hub for more information on butterfly bushes.
  • The Buddleja Garden is a lovely site from the UK full of images, information on cultivation and varieties, and links to helpful resources. The site authors know what they are doing!

Closing Time at the Buddleja

Butterfly bush visitors are quite sensible about when to call it quits. The party’s over when the sun goes down. There’s no need to holler “last call” and hammer a gong before a closing time determined by law. Everybody knows when to go. With any luck, that bee who didn't have very good judgment won't get a citation for FWI* or overloading a vehicle. Most patrons will be fine and come back tomorrow for another party.

Now it’s time for you to have your cocktail, perhaps with a bit of candlelight to catch the flowers’ reflections in the table’s glass top.

*FWI - Flying While Intoxicated

The Buddleja is quiet now, but will be buzzing again in the morning.
The Buddleja is quiet now, but will be buzzing again in the morning. | Source

Who Wouldn't Love This Bar? Doesn't the hmmmm, hmmm sound like a bee?

The Buddleja closes for the winter when patrons head for warmer climates or take a snooze for the cold season. They'll be back in the summer!
The Buddleja closes for the winter when patrons head for warmer climates or take a snooze for the cold season. They'll be back in the summer! | Source

No Cover Charge, No Charge for Drinks and Snacks

Although everything at the Buddleja is free, I do ask that patrons deposit their eggs and build their hives nearby. I want plenty of new customers next season.

What Do You Think?

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© 2012 Sally's Trove. All rights reserved.

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Comments 32 comments

mary615 profile image

mary615 4 years ago from Florida

I have a Butterfly Bush. I didn't plant it, it just appeared. I really like it. I've never seen Monarchs laying eggs on it, though. My hobby is the Monarch; I buy the milkweed plant for them to lay eggs on.

Great Hub. I voted it UP, etc.


Sally's Trove profile image

Sally's Trove 4 years ago from Southeastern Pennsylvania Author

Mary, I love your comment. The butterfly bush just appeared. They do just that. But you know about the milkweed...it's a cycle. Awesome!


Jools99 profile image

Jools99 4 years ago from North-East UK

Sherri, great hub - making all those insects anthropomorphic works a treat. You can just imagine them buzzing and fluttering at closing time - sundown, last orders, bell ringing, 'drink up everyone, out you go'.....I don't have one because I'm too lazy to do the hacking back every year. my sister has one in her garden which is always full of butterflies and bees and they do look like a nectar mecca for the insect world.


fpherj48 profile image

fpherj48 4 years ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

A very clever and entertaining way to introduce your readers to the Butterfly Bush. Fortunately, one does not have to offer overnight accommodations! lol. I see this as a wonderful idea to build this bar near a deck or outdoor social area. The hours of viewing would be a pleasure.

Since my husband is the official gardener of our home, I intend to inform him of this, for next year. Thanks for the hub. You sold me! UP++


robie2 profile image

robie2 4 years ago from Central New Jersey

Oh Sherri, this hub is wonderful, magical and I love it. I too have a butterfly bush and I just love the annual party too. I have recently installed some butterfly weed nearby for the monarchs and am breathlessly awaiting them, but everybody else is there now. Fabulous read, beautiful butterfly photos and videos. Thumbs up and more:-)


annemaeve profile image

annemaeve 4 years ago from Philly Burbs

I love our Buddleja!! And this hub. What a delightful way to remind us all how fun gardens can be, for people and for everything else!


Sally's Trove profile image

Sally's Trove 4 years ago from Southeastern Pennsylvania Author

Julie, I hear you! Although these shrubs are very easy to plant and don't require anything fancy in the way of pest management (HA!) or fertilization, they do require that annual hacking. I have two on my property. The oldest is about 6 years old, and I have to have someone come in to hack it back for me (I don't own a chain saw). You and the critters, enjoy your sister's garden!


Uninvited Writer profile image

Uninvited Writer 4 years ago from Kitchener, Ontario

Beautiful pictures...makes me wish I had a garden


Sally's Trove profile image

Sally's Trove 4 years ago from Southeastern Pennsylvania Author

fpherj48, indeed, no linens or late-night room service are needed. That's a blessing! You are so right about siting a butterfly bush near an outdoor seating area. I get completely lost watching this amazing show from the comfort of my patio chair. So much goes on in that bush! I've barely skimmed the surface with this hub. :)

Be sure to tell hubby he'll need a chain saw in a few years. Thanks for the awesome comment.


Sally's Trove profile image

Sally's Trove 4 years ago from Southeastern Pennsylvania Author

robie2, I'm so glad you feel the magic. The monarchs showed up here only a few days ago. You won't have long to wait! Meanwhile, I'm glad you are enjoying all the other visitors. There are many more than those I mentioned in this hub, and I'll bet you are seeing them. Thanks so much for the good words and the likes and other things. :)


Feline Prophet profile image

Feline Prophet 4 years ago from India

Not only did I learn a new word today (Buddleja), I also got to feast my eyes on these lovely creatures! I'm sure you're a wonderful hostess! :)


Sally's Trove profile image

Sally's Trove 4 years ago from Southeastern Pennsylvania Author

annemaeve, thank you so, so much for brainstorming with me and for your excellent suggestions. You are the best!


Sally's Trove profile image

Sally's Trove 4 years ago from Southeastern Pennsylvania Author

@Uninvited Writer, come on by any time. I've got plenty of comfortable seating for humans. :)

@Feline Prophet, I think buddleja is fun to say, especially when in the company of someone who's never heard the word before. As always, dear FP, thank you for visiting and leaving your good words. :)


drbj profile image

drbj 4 years ago from south Florida

This was enchanting, Sally, and I love your butterfly photos. I don't have a garden but I am enjoying yours vicariously through your writing. So thank you.


Sally's Trove profile image

Sally's Trove 4 years ago from Southeastern Pennsylvania Author

I'm glad you enjoyed this one, drbj. Thank you so much for the kind and lovely words. You are always welcome in my garden. :)


trish1048 profile image

trish1048 4 years ago

Well, dear friend, looks like I will have to make a bee-line to your door relatively soon so I can enjoy the show with you. I'm looking forward to seeing a 'drunken' bee :)


Sally's Trove profile image

Sally's Trove 4 years ago from Southeastern Pennsylvania Author

Trish, you are always welcome here. Bring your beautiful granddaughter and her camera. She'll capture all that important stuff!


billybuc profile image

billybuc 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

Very clever hub! I love your approach to this and the pictures are beautiful.


tillsontitan profile image

tillsontitan 4 years ago from New York

Who would've thought to write such a wonderful hub about the butterfly bush? Only you! I voted this a grand slam for the information you provided, the beautiful pictures and your wonderful creativity!


Sally's Trove profile image

Sally's Trove 4 years ago from Southeastern Pennsylvania Author

Thanks, billybuc!

@tillsontitan, grand slam? Love it. So glad you enjoyed this.


Sharyn's Slant profile image

Sharyn's Slant 4 years ago from Northeast Ohio USA

Extremely creative introduction Sherri and incredibly beautiful hub. I love your bits of humor throughout. Like "Dig a five-dollar hole for a one-dollar plant." That made me giggle. I really enjoyed this and will be sharing.


Sally's Trove profile image

Sally's Trove 4 years ago from Southeastern Pennsylvania Author

Sharon, thanks so much for your super comment and the sharing! I love it when I can make someone giggle. :)


Eiddwen profile image

Eiddwen 4 years ago from Wales

What a wonderful hub Sally and I am saving into my 'Favourite hubs.'

Have a great weekend.

Eddy.


Sally's Trove profile image

Sally's Trove 4 years ago from Southeastern Pennsylvania Author

Thanks, Eddy! You have a wonderful weekend, too. :)


Dolores Monet profile image

Dolores Monet 4 years ago from East Coast, United States

Hi Sally - I did not know that butterfly bush can be invasive! Oh well. I have one that I really need to move, it's got crammed in with too many other plants.

Your pictures of butterflies are so beautiful. I remember once seeing that hummingbird hawk moth and wondering what the heck it was. What an interesting creature!


Sally's Trove profile image

Sally's Trove 4 years ago from Southeastern Pennsylvania Author

Dolores, I remember the first time I saw that hawk moth, too, many years ago. It was sipping nectar out of impatiens flowers, and my first thought was that it was a Disney caricature of a bumble bee. SO big, and with a proboscis that defied imagination. Thanks for sharing your first memories of this amazing creature.

Butterfly bushes are hard to move once they have some age. They have amazing tap roots that go to China. Let me know how moving yours works out for you.


SimpleJoys profile image

SimpleJoys 3 years ago

I planted a small butterfly bush a few years ago. They must be hardy because not only has it survived me, but it has really thrived. I am not an expert on butterflies but it sure does attract them as well as the the hummingbirds. The hawk moth is a regular visitor in the late summer. It is really a treat. Fabulous photos!


Sally's Trove profile image

Sally's Trove 3 years ago from Southeastern Pennsylvania Author

SimpleJoys, thank you for sharing your experience with this amazing plant that fascinates us with its beautiful visitors. Glad you enjoyed the photos. :)


Riviera Rose profile image

Riviera Rose 3 years ago from South of France

I love this - I've recently planted two buddlejas, they're still very small but we're getting so much rain at the moment they're sure to grow. Can't wait for those butterfly parties!


Sally's Trove profile image

Sally's Trove 3 years ago from Southeastern Pennsylvania Author

There will be so many parties! Take your glass of wine or shot of whisky and enjoy the party. The party-goers on the bush will not disappoint.


pstraubie48 profile image

pstraubie48 3 years ago from sunny Florida

Yes, I do. I have a few butterfly bushes but this is so lovely. The beautiful photos you added also make me want more butterflies even more. A few very brave butterflies have been flitting past in the last day or two. Spring is not quite here so they are not out in droves yet.

Thanks for sharing. Sending Angels to you again this evening. :) ps


Kristen Howe profile image

Kristen Howe 20 months ago from Northeast Ohio

Lovely photos for this interesting hub on growing a butterfly bush. I would love to have my own someday, but nowhere to place it in my apartment. Voted up!

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