3 Reasons Why You Should Never Plant Butterfly Bush Again

DIY | Did You Know

3 Reasons Why You Should Never Plant Butterfly Bush Again

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For the last couple of weeks, many of us have been working hard at growing our gardens so when summer finally arrives, we can sit back and enjoy the luscious green grass, pretty flowers, and maybe even some vegetables.

Having a green thumb surely does help your garden thrive, but it isn't enough.

When it comes to planting flowers, shrubs, fruits and vegetables, it's important to have some knowledge of how they grow and impact they can have on rest of your garden.

A common mistake people make is planting the wrong flower or shrub to attract birds or butterflies.

One of the most popular plants that bring the beautiful creatures to your yard is Butterfly bush, but it turns out, they do more harm than good.

The seemingly harmless plant does provide nectar to the butterflies, but that's as far as their benefit goes.

Doug Tallamy, PhD, a professor and chair of entomology ad wildlife ecology at the University of Delaware, explained to Goodhousekeeping.com that there three major reasons why Butterfly bush is no longer a good option.

1. It's invasive

Butterfly bush, scientifically known as Buddleja davidii, can't be contained in your yard because it's an invasive plant, which means that it poses a threat to the local ecosystem.

Although opinions are divided, the exotic plant which hails from Asia, does indeed get in the way of naturally occurring native plants and stops them from growing.

"People who say butterfly bush doesn't move around are in the denial stage," Tallamy said. "Butterfly bush just doesn't stay where we plant it."

2. It doesn't benefit butterflies

Sure, it produces beautiful flowers that smell good and provide nectar for butterflies, but the sad fact is that Butterfly bush does not aid in the insect's reproduction.

If it's the only plant you have in your yard to attract butterflies, you will eventually not have any butterflies lurking around. Unlike host plants, like butterfly weed, this shrub doesn't offer anything of value for butterfly larvae to stay alive and grow.

3. Disrupts the food web

Since Butterfly bush isn't native to North America, planting it in your garden will make it hard for the animals in your area, including butterflies and birds, to survive.

Tallamy used chickadees as an example. If you want these birds to reproduce in your yard, you'll need to have plants that can host between 6,000-9,000 caterpillars so the birds can feed their young for 16 days.

"If you don't have that, the plant-caterpillar-chickadee food web stops," he explained. "If you plant butterfly bush, and not native [species], then right away you're removing at least 75% of the food that is supporting the biodiversity that's out there."

What you should plant instead

There are tons of other native flowering shrubs you can grow instead of the controversial Butterfly bush. Not only will they provide sweet nectar that will bring butterflies to your yard, they also provide larval food so caterpillars can also thrive.

Here are some examples:


Sweet pepperbush

Mountain laurel

Glossy abelia

New Jersey tea




Do you have Butterfly bush in your garden? Let us know!

Blair isn't a bestselling author, but she has a knack for beautiful prose. When she isn't writing for Shared, she enjoys listening to podcasts.