One of the first things I planted when we moved into our house were 2 dark purple ‘black knight’ butterfly bushes (and a nikko blue hydrangea). I really wanted some butterflies in our pretty boring landscape and I heard that Buddleia grew quickly and were quite hardy. And sure enough the first year we planted them the butterflies showed up as soon as they started to flower! As I sit here, I have seen 3 pass by the window.
I have since expanded my collection (with some good and some not so good varieties). Now that I have a lot of other plant varieties in the yard, I don’t find the Buddleia quite as aesthetically appealing as I once did (although they do reliably bloom in July and August). They can look kind of rough towards the bottom (if possible I recommend underplanting them with some perennials). I also recommend cutting them back quite heavily (either in the fall or spring). The older branches tend to be less attractive and have a tendency to break over time. Also if left to grow unchecked mine have reached 15′ tall. If you want to avoid seedlings, cut back the spent blooms before they turn to seed. I have had a number of volunteer plants from the seeds (both in good and bad locations), but ultimately I keep them because I love the butterflies. It is interesting that these plants are not generally native to North America, but somehow they seem to be the butterflies favorite food! I have also added Orange Butterfly Weed to the garden as well as a number of other butterfly friendly plants, but I see the butterflies mostly choosing the butterfly bush.
Although they won’t make my Plant of the Week because they can look a little rough at other times of the year, I still highly recommend planting at least one, preferably where you can see it from a window. We have them planted so that you can see them from 2 of the kitchen windows and I get to enjoy the butterflies while I make dinner. Sometimes it is the little things that make you smile.