January 21, 2011

Dazzling Garden Hues!

 The color bursts of flowers! The exotic fragrances of leaves; the hypnotic effect of arching stems swaying in the wind; the singing of the trees as gentle breezes rattle their leaves are a few joys of gardening, which is why some of us are drawn to this hobby!

One of the greatest treasures for providing life in the garden is the Butterfly Bush. Hummingbirds and beneficial insects, as well as butterflies, are seduced by the nectar rich flowers of these bushes. Stunning colors paint lengthy bottle brush like flowers in dazzling hues that complement most every garden color theme. A few of the names of Butterfly Bushes are known as Ice Delight, Harlequin, Sungold, Black Night and Twilight!
 You may also find Royal Red and Dwarf Blue!

 While Butterfly Bushes have many virtues, their one main flaw is that the dead flowers are never dropped.  From a distance, this is not so noticeable. In colder climates, the bush takes care of this by dying back to the ground, but in the warm, 20 degree winters here the plants remain evergreen and ever holding these spent blooms.

Several Butterfly Bushes have been planted in more formal areas where more effort is made to tidy them up. Early spring is when these bushes that adorn our patios and near gardens are sculpted. Using sharp loppers the weeping side branches are chopped back to a cluster of main stems in the center of the bush. The center stems are left as tall as possible without having the tops droop down. Usually this means some of the top growth is cut back a bit also. Even beefy side stems are removed if they are arching away from the main cluster of center stems. The result is a columnar plant that looks like a plucked chicken, but within a few weeks the bush is covered with fresh new growth. And, shortly after, it will be covered with fresh as a daisy blue or gold or pink or dark purple or light purple or white or reddish purple or bluish purple flowers that will stun and please, not only the life in flight, but you, too.

Huge Butterfly Bush next to Hydrangeas in Massachusetts

•Type: perennial
•Uses: ideal as a border and as a container-grown plant
•Zones: USDA hardiness zones 5 thru 10
•Spacing: plant 4" to 5" apart
•Sun Exposure: place in full to part-day sun
•Watering: water 1" or more per week
• fertilize once every two weeks during growing season;
discontinue use after September 1st
•Blooms: all summer
•Mature Height and Spread: 3'H to 4'H with x 2'W to 3'W spread
•Attracts: butterflies and hummingbirds
•Resistant to: rabbits and deer
•Drought Tolerant: yes

I have decided to triple the outdoor attraction by adding one spectacular planting to our deck! Three varieties of butterfly bush will emerge from one container! Black Knight requires little care, but provides rich fragrance from dark violet-purple spikes; Pink Delight produces spectacular summer color enhanced by an enticing aroma; and White Profusion emerges stately with clear white blossoms and silvery undersides.

•Plant 4' to 5' apart
•Place in full to part-day sun
•Water 1" or more per week
•Fertilize during growing season; discontinue use in winter dormancy
•Blooms midsummer
•If temperatures drop below freezing, container-grown plants should be placed in a protected, unheated area
•Matures to 6'H to 8'H in 2 to 3 years with a similar spread
•USDA hardiness zones 5 through 9

Clip a small branch or twig from a butterfly bush, put it in a pot with soil in it, water it regularly. You have a new butterfly bush. They are beautiful and sweet smelling.

"Let us be grateful to people who make us happy;
 they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom."
Marcel Proust

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