Gardening: Butterfly bush is ideal for year-round colour
SPRING time in a garden centre is such an exciting time. Most days, hundreds of gorgeous plants arrive and live with us for a few days or weeks until they find a permanent home in someone's garden.
This week's delivery included all sorts of flowering plants - dwarf shasta daisies and bougainvilleas, climbing mandevillas, compact hibiscus, perennial statice and gaura, as well as shade lovers like peace lilies, bromeliads, birds nest ferns and kentia palms.
Then there was a large collection of carnivorous plants, as well as organic vegetable seedlings and herbs. Yesterday's arrivals included new season jacaranda and poinciana trees. Really, it's heaven for people who love plants.
With so many beautiful plants about it's hard to pick favourites but, because I spend so much time helping people choose plants that will perform well in their gardens, I tend to favour those that will thrive in a range of conditions, with a minimum of fuss, and look great all (or at least most) of the time.
I was pleased this week to welcome a new batch of Buzz Buddlejas. These dwarf buddlejas will grow about 1m x 1m, and produce elegant clusters of tiny, fragrant blooms at the ends of gently arching branches.
They flower almost year-round and are attractive to butterflies, hence the common name Butterfly Bush. Bees and many other small insects also love them.
The soft grey-green foliage is the perfect backdrop for the six flower colours - ivory, sky blue, velvet, purple, midnight and soft pink. These colours work beautifully together in a mass planting, as a border or in a mixed bed. The compact form not only makes the plants garden-friendly but also perfect for pots.
They require little maintenance, just a prune in early spring to prevent them from becoming leggy and to retain a neat shape. At this time, remove dead, damaged, diseased or weak stems.
Buddlejas flower on new growth, so pruning will encourage new stems which will produce more blooms in the same year. Removing spent flowers during the almost non-stop flowering period will keep the plant tidy and encourage still more new growth, which will produce even more flowers.
Grow buddlejas in a sunny to partly shaded position. If you are planting them in pots, make sure you water regularly and keep them well fed.
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