Dwarf Butterfly Bush: What Is It?

The name “dwarf” refers to a type of shrub or small tree. They are often called “old man trees”. There are many varieties of dwarf shrubs and trees, but they all have one thing in common – they grow slowly and don’t produce much foliage until the last few years of their life span. These plants usually reach maturity at age 10 or 12, though some may take longer than that. Dwarf shrubs and trees are very slow growing.

These plants usually live 20-30 years, with some reaching up to 50 years old! Most dwarf shrubs and trees will die within 5-10 years of being planted. However, there are exceptions such as the evergreen dwarf oak (Quercus ilex) which can live up to 80+ years.

There are several types of dwarf shrubs and trees. Some are deciduous, others are evergreen, while still others are coniferous. Deciduous dwarfs tend to be smaller than evergreens and conifers. Evergreens tend to be larger than decids and conifers. All dwarf shrubs and trees need lots of light so they can grow quickly without having too much competition from other plants in the area.

A few types of plants that fall under this description are:

Azalea (Rhododendron spp)

Blueberry bush (Vaccinium spp)

Butterfly Bush (Buddleia macrocephala)

Dogwood (Cornus spp)

Holly (Ilex spp)

Juniper (Juniperus spp)

Lilac (Syringa vulgaris)

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Mountain ash (Sorbus spp)

Pieris (Pieris japonica)

Privet (Ligustrum spp)

Snowberry (Symphoricarpos albus)

Squirrel tail (Euonymus spp)

Weeping Hophornbeam (Ostrya virginiana)

Holm Oak (Quercus ilex)

Butterfly Bush: The Story

Butterfly bush is a shrub that produces flowers that resemble butterflies and are vibrant shades of orange, yellow, and red. These plants are cold-hardy perennials, which means that they can survive the winter. They typically reach between four to eight feet in height and width. While they can be grown as annuals or biennials, this species tends to bloom better when grown as perennials.

Butterfly bushes are fairly large plants that often need plenty of space to grow. They prefer to grow in full sun, but will tolerate some partial shade. They do best in well-drained and fertile soil that is slightly on the acidic side (with a pH between 5.5 and 6.5).

They tend to grow best in zones five through nine, but can also sometimes be grown as annuals or biennials in other zones.

While these plants can be grown from seed, they usually don’t bloom until they reach the age of three. Most gardeners prefer to start these plants from shrubs and cuttings. In most areas, these plants bloom between the months of April and May. Their blooms only last for around two weeks, but they produce a sweet honey-like scent that is very appealing to bees and butterflies.

They can also grow into large shrubs or small trees if left undisturbed, which makes this plant a good option for natural fencing. Their flowers can be dried and used in potpourri.

Butterfly bush has been used to make a tea that is high in vitamin C (which helps to prevent scurvy) and has also been used to treat a range of illnesses such as colds, tuberculosis, and measles. The tea has been known to help with breathing problems such as asthma, and many herbalists use it as a natural remedy for acid reflux and indigestion.

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Butterfly bush can be invasive in some areas, and is considered a noxious weed in others. Even though it is native to North America, the plants spread very quickly when they are planted and can take over the habitat of other native species.

Using Dwarf Shrubs and Trees in Landscaping

If you decide to use dwarf shrubs or small trees in your landscaping, there are a few things that you should keep in mind. While most members of this group only grow to a maximum height of three feet, they typically grow wider than they do taller. This means that you will need to make sure there is enough room for them to spread out. While they can be planted close to a walkway or patio, they typically need at least five feet between them and other plants in order for them to grow properly. You should also keep in mind that the root systems for these plants are typically wide and shallow; this means that any nearby walkways or patio slabs should not be covered by the root system or else they may crack as the plant grows.

You should also keep in mind that the root systems of these plants can often extend out into the path or patio and then underground, which means that you will need to avoid planting them too close to these areas if you do not want to be pricking your feet on garden hoses and gardening tools that have been hidden under the soil the next time you go out to do some work in your landscaping.

While most of these plants do not usually exceed a height of three feet, some types can reach six feet in height. You should pay careful attention to the maximum height that any plant can reach before you purchase and plant them in your landscaping, otherwise they may overtop and shade out other plants around them if you do not give them enough space.

Most of these types of shrubs and small trees have fairly shallow root systems that are wide but don’t extend too far down. This means that you can plant them fairly close to the foundation of your home or other buildings without having to worry too much about them causing any damage. They also do not typically require root space, which means that you can plant them fairly close together without worrying about them starving for space or suffering from competition as they grow. This can save you a lot of time and effort when it comes to maintenance and upkeep.

Sources & references used in this article:

Production and invasion of Butterfly bush (Buddleja davidii) in Oregon by J Ream – 2006 – ir.library.oregonstate.edu

Abies religiosa habitat prediction in climatic change scenarios and implications for monarch butterfly conservation in Mexico by C Sáenz-Romero, GE Rehfeldt, P Duval… – Forest Ecology and …, 2012 – Elsevier

Catastrophic winter storm mortality of monarch butterflies in Mexico during January 2002 by E García-Serrano, KR Kust, J Miller… – Monarch Butterfly …, 2004 – books.google.com

Monarch butterfly clusters provide microclimatic advantages during the overwintering season in Mexico by LP Brower, EH Williams, LS Fink… – Journal of the …, 2008 – images.peabody.yale.edu

Overwintering states of the pale grass blue butterfly Zizeeria maha (Lepidoptera: Lycaenidae) at the time of the Fukushima Nuclear Accident in March 2011 by K Sakauchi, W Taira, M Toki, Y Iraha, JM Otaki – Insects, 2019 – mdpi.com

Thermal variability increases the impact of autumnal warming and drives metabolic depression in an overwintering butterfly by CM Williams, KE Marshall, HA MacMillan… – PLoS …, 2012 – journals.plos.org

Forest canopy structure at overwintering monarch butterfly sites: measurements with hemispherical photography by SB Weiss, PM Rich, DD Murphy… – Conservation …, 1991 – Wiley Online Library

Brown Marmorated Stink Bug by EP THREATS – Citeseer

Overwintering ecology of the monarch butterfly, Danaus plexippus L., in California by PM Tuskes, LP Brower – Ecological Entomology, 1978 – Wiley Online Library

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