How to take Buddleia cuttings – Growing Butterfly Bushes
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How to propagate Buddleia plants
Buddleia’s are more commonly known as ‘the butterfly bush’ for their magnet-like attraction that butterflies have to them. There is no mistaking the highly scented spiked flowers of Buddleia bushes which flower in abundance throughout the summer. These are highly attractive to a variety of beautiful butterflies, our much loved bees and other beneficial insects that pollinate our plants.
Buddleia are very versatile plants and will grow in most conditions including drier areas of the garden and you can even get dwarf varieties that are ideal for growing in pots on the patio.
With 1000’s of buddleias growing in gardens and lots more self seeded in towns across the UK, there are plenty of plants to take cuttings off should you not already have one.
For best results take a softwood cutting in spring
Buddleia can be propagated by seed or by taking cuttings. Sowing seeds can be time consuming and is not as effective as taking a cutting. Seeds does not usually grow true to the plant it was taken from, which is another reason to propagate them by taking cuttings.
How to take Buddleia cutting
There are 3 types of Buddleia cuttings that you can take. Softwood cuttings, which are taken in spring, are probably the best type of cutting to take as they root easier and usually more successful. Semi-hardwood cuttings can also be taken in summer when the growth used for cutting is semi-mature. Lastly, you can take hardwood cuttings, these are taken in autumn / winter when the shrubs have dropped their leaves.
How to take soft-wood cuttings from a Buddleia
Softwood cuttings are taken in spring or early summer from new tender growth. Take cuttings early in the morning when the plants are hydrated, if you cannot plant the cutting straight away, place it in a bag with water and store in the fridge until you are ready to use them.
- Firstly, mix the cutting compost or multi-purpose compost with around 30% perlite. All you want to achieve is a well drained cutting compost where the roots will be able to take easily.
- Take your cutting from new fresh growth that are 4-5 inches long and that have not got any flower buds on.
- Take the cutting and remove all but the top set of leaves, you can cut these top set of leaves in half, although this is not essential.
- Make a sharp clean cut just under a node (lead joint) to make the cutting 3-4 inches long, dip the cutting in rooting hormone powder and make a small hole in the compost with a dibber and insert the cutting into a suitable container.
- You can put several cuttings into a container or plant them into individual cell trays, the latter will make potting them up easier.
- Water well and place the cutting into a propagator, (bottom heat will speed up rooting) they will often root within 2 weeks. If you don’t have a propagator them simply putting a couple of canes into the pot and placing a clear plastic bag over the pot will suffice. Keep watered and remove bag every few days for 20 minutes to air and avoid them rotting off.
- Place on a warm a windowsill or greenhouse where there is plenty of light, but not in direct sunlight as this can scorch the young foliage. Check roots after 2 weeks, it may take up to 6 weeks to root but as soon as they have plenty of root, pot up into small individual pots being careful not to damage the roots. Harden off over summer and autumn. They should be okay to survive the winter but bring into a cold sheltered area if in doubt or you live in a particular cold part of the country.
Taking semi-hardwood and hardwood Buddleia cuttings
These types of cuttings are taken from the more mature wood. Semi-hardwood cuttings are taken in summer from wood that has started to harden. Hardwood cuttings are taken in autumn and winter from mature wood.
Take the hardwood cuttings when the plants have lost their leaves for the winter.
- Take a cutting that is 6-12 inches long and cut just under a leaf bud at the bottom and then just above a leaf bud towards the top to form a cutting that is 6-10 inches long.
- Dip it into cutting powder to help promote roots and make hole in the compost with a dibber and insert the cutting into a suitable container. You can place several cuttings into one pot. The compost should be mixed 50% compost and 50% grit sand.
- Water well and place into a cold frame or greenhouse in light, but not direct sunlight. Keep watered and they should show signs of roots in spring
- Once they have plenty of root in spring, pot up into smaller 9cm pots and grow on before planting into the garden.
To learn more about taking cuttings and see more in depth instructions click here
To learn how to prune Buddleia correctly click here
How to increase the flowering time
Remove flowers as they fade and they will produce new flowers. They can flower 2 to 3 times in one season. Do not allow the faded flowers to go to seed as the plant with focus all of its energy into seeding and not flowering.
How you can help small birds over Winter
Finally leave the last flush of flowers on in late summer as this attracts small birds into the garden and the seeds provide food for them when natural food becomes more scarce.