Buddleia For Bees And Butterflies

White-tailed bumble bee and red admiral butterfly on buddleia flower.White-tailed bumble bee and red admiral butterfly on buddleia flower.

The lovely panicles feature masses of small, tubular flowers popular with bees and butterflies alike.

Do bees like buddleias ('butterfly bush') as well as butterflies?

Yes, they certainly do!

Commonly known as the 'butterfly bush', buddleia (or buddleja) are also popular shrubs with bees as well as butterflies.  If you include a buddleia in your garden, you will be providing food for both.  Moths also visit this hardy bush, and in some countries they may attract humming birds.

Bumble bee feeding on the small tubular florets of a buddleia bush.  Buddleia growing in the wild where I live provide food for bees as well as butterflies.Bumble bee feeding on the small tubular florets of a buddleia bush. Buddleia growing in the wild where I live provide food for bees as well as butterflies.

In my experience, buddleia are tough, hardy shrubs, and some specimens appear to grow almost anywhere.  There are climbing varieties available, and some specimens will grow into trees.

In the local area where I live, a few buddleia have established themselves in the wild.  In one location, the buddleia supplement the flowers growing in a wooded area and historic brownfield site.  

Small tortoiseshell butterfly on buddleia.This shrub was growing in an exposed coastal location.Small tortoiseshell butterfly on buddleia. This shrub was growing in an exposed coastal location.

They also grow nearby in an exposed, sandy coastal area.  However, I have even seen some especially tough specimens growing out of walls at the side of railway lines.

Comma butterfly foraging on buddleia growing in the wild locally.Comma butterfly foraging on buddleia growing in the wild locally.

Although I have buddleia in my garden, I love to see the wild-growing shrubs and look out for different species of butterflies.  In addition to whites, other species such as red admiral, comma, painted lady, peacock and tortoiseshell butterflies are fairly common in the area.

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Buddleias in my garden

Common carder bumble bees love buddleia too!


The photographs of these deeper pink buddleias were taken in my garden.  I love buddleias, and we have had several over the years, occasionally replacing them during changes made to the garden, usually opting for various shades of pink, rather than the paler lilac we see growing around us.

Peacock butterfly on buddleia in our front garden.Peacock butterfly on buddleia in our front garden.

Butterflies and bees certainly visit every year, although I have never been quick enough to take a photograph of the hummingbird-hawkmoths we have seen on them from time to time. 

Two painted lady butterflies feeding on buddleia flowers in my garden.Two painted lady butterflies feeding on buddleia flowers in my garden.

I sometimes extend the flowering season by removing dead flowers.

Small tortoiseshell butterfly on one of our buddleias.Small tortoiseshell butterfly on one of our buddleias.

Growing buddleias for bees and butterflies

Buddleias are widely available in plant nurseries and garden centres ready for you to plant out right away, though it's possible to take cuttings in summer and autumn.  Prune them in early spring.

You may see caterpillars feeding on leaves - but of course, without the caterpillars, we can't have the butterflies!

Common carder bumble bee foraging on buddleia.Common carder bumble bee foraging on buddleia.

The lovely panicles of buddleia feature masses of small, tubular flowers most commonly seen in shades of pink, lilac and purple, although white specimens are available.  

Buddleia with yellow and orange florets exist too, although I have no information or experience with regard to their attractiveness to bees and butterflies or otherwise.

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