I read about pruning butterfly bushes, but I have several bushes
planted last April. They are now about 4 feet tall. Should these
bushed be pruned back to 1-2 feet high as recommended for more mature
I'm in zone 5/6, upstate NY. Because I've read conflicting ideas about
butterfly bushes, there have been years when I haven't pruned mine at all,
and the first year in this house, I hacked it to 12" in February. That's
generally a bad idea because enough mild weather can cause plants to make
buds, and when winter returns, they can be damaged. But, nothing seems to
hurt the butterfly bush.
I've done everything in between, too. Even when hacked severely, it was
still 8-10 feet tall by July.
If you're pruning for shape, go ahead and do it now if you're bored and need
something to do. But, I don't see that it matters. You can prune for shape
almost any time during the growing season, and the crazy bush will be back
to its previous size in about 20 minutes.
Generally speaking. I would treat them as a tree. Wait until second
growing season before pruning stems. You have. If you understood targets
when pruning a tree, then there are two critical periods. I.e., when the
leaves are forming and when the leaves are falling. Like an airplane. Two
times are critical - taking off and landing. Of course when pruning a BF
Bush you are indiscriminately pruning, like topping a tree. The old timers
used to say winter was the best time to prune a tree. The question really
was when is the best time to severely wound a tree because they did not
understand targets. You could do that now, as long as the leaves are not
forming, or after the flowers have died.
On the topic of pruning here are two outstanding, top quality books on
pruning trees and woody plants.
And a site on pruning
Also, you could follow proper mulching instruction.
I hope this helps you Paul.
As someone who has grown Butterfly bushes for many years, I can say that
that is really BAD advice. New growth starts WAY before the last frost
date and if you cut back the bush then you are likely to have less
blooms that season.
I cut mine after about the second hard freeze in the late fall or early
winter. Then, in the spring, I trim lightly if needed (mainly for
If you did not cut them at all yet, I would do it now BEFORE any new
Thanks for the information. One thing I was assuming is if I prune my
butterfly bushes they will grow bigger and fuller than if I do not
prune them. Is this correct? Since they are only about 3-4 feet tall,
I do not need to prune them just to reduce their size or modify their
Next time, google it.
According to Mountain Valley Growers, you can whack it back to the
ground, whether it is dormant or vegetative, and it will bounce back. If
it is budding or pushing, you will have wasted some of it's energy
reserves, which will reduce its' vigor but you won't seriously damage
it. With grape vines, if you prune just before bud break, it will delay
budding a couple of weeks and may get you past a late frost before it
starts to push.
HomeOwnersHub.com is a website for homeowners and building and maintenance pros. It is not affiliated with any of the manufacturers or service providers discussed here.
All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.