PNW Landscape Plant Guide

brought to you by the plant geeks at Calendula Farm

Lindley’s Butterfly Bush (Buddleia lindleyana)

Butterfly Bushes are common in the PNW, but this one looks almost surreal. Mid to late summer is the time for Butterfly Bushes to take center stage in Pacific Northwest landscapes. They are frequently mistaken for Lilacs blooming at the wrong time of year. The most common variety we see looks, indeed, exactly like purple lilac – a multi-stemmed shrub covered with 6-10 inch conical scentless panicles (a tight mass of tiny individual flowers). Lindley’s Butterfly Bush is very different.

Lindley’s Butterfly Bush was identified and brought to Britain and the U.S. by intrepid Scottish botanist John Fortune while bushwhacking in remote parts of central China in 1843. He found it growing at the edges of forests and along stream banks at elevations similar to our Puget Sound bluffs & Cascade Mountain foothills.

Here’s what makes it so much cooler than the common varieties – it grows as a collection of slender stems that can be 5-9 feet long, but they arch over in graceful draping curves from which pop out equally graceful, very slender curved bloom clusters. The flower panicles snake out from between leaves and can be 8-12 inches long with individual flowers opening successively from the base to the tip. Each single tiny tubular bloom is a wondrous world of detailed color from deep royal purple to magenta. Hummingbirds love them!