En EspaŅol
Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Mr. Smarty Plants - Failure to thrive of non-native Buddleja davidii

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
    
 
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.

Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.
 
rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

Monday - June 30, 2008

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Non-Natives
Title: Failure to thrive of non-native Buddleja davidii
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I love butterfly bushes - but have bad luck growing them. I now have several, including Butterfly Nanho Purple; and they constantly wilt. It has been a dry hot Austin summer, but should I water when they wilt or is it a sign of another issue? Thank you

ANSWER:

First, we need to establish exactly what plant you have, as there are several referred to as "butterfly bush."

Buddleja. The North American natives of this are Buddleja marrubiifolia (woolly butterflybush) native to Southern Trans-Pecos and Mexico, Buddleja racemosa (wand butterflybush) native to Texas, Buddleja scordioides (escobilla butterflybush) native to Arizona, New Mexico and Texas, and Buddleja sessiliflora (Rio Grande butterflybush) Arizona and Texas.

Buddleia. Buddleja Davidii is the botanical name for this plant, originating in China and Japan. Most of the plants in commercial trade by the name "butterfly bush" are cultivars of this non-native. We suspect this is the plant in your garden. This Floridata website on Buddleja davidii will give you more information. The USDA Plant Profile map on Buddleja davidii does not show it growing in Texas at all, which probably indicates it has been sold in the commercial trade without it really being adapted to living here.

In search of some of the reasons why your plant may be having some problems, we found that it can be invaded by spider mites during a period of drought, which we certainly are having in Austin right now. We also learned that you should avoid the use of insecticides around this plant, so if you have been spraying for insects in your garden, this could be the problem. This Colorado State University Extension site for Horticulture on spider mites will give you some more information. One reason that spider mites begin to harm plants is that insecticides tend to kill the natural predators of spider mites, not the mites themselves. Adequate watering of plants during dry conditions can limit the importance of drought stress on spider mite outbreaks.

And we would remind you that the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center promotes the use of plants native to the area in which they are being grown, as they will require less water, less fertilizer, and less maintenance, as well as being pest and disease resistant. When selecting plants for your garden in the future, we would suggest that you go to our Native Plant Database and, using the Recommended Species feature, look for native plants that will grow well in the Austin area.

 

 

More Non-Natives Questions

Non-native, invasive bamboo for sloped river bank in Texas?
April 01, 2010 - What type of native plants/trees/shrubs/grasses would you recommend planting on a 20 ft sloped bank on the Colorado river in Texas to prevent further erosion of the bank? How do you feel about bamboo?...
view the full question and answer

Blocking stolons of St. Augustine grass
July 25, 2008 - I have St. Augustine in my yard, and I am sick of edging the stolons that grow onto the sidewalk and driveway. Is there any way to stop the stolons or block them so that I can just mow and throw away ...
view the full question and answer

Eliminating KR? Bluestem from St. Augustine Yard in Spicewood, TX
April 28, 2012 - How can I eradicate bluestem grass invading my St. Augustine lawn?
view the full question and answer

Replacing St. Augustine grass from Dallas TX
April 10, 2014 - Dear Mr. Pants, we are replacing dying St. Augustine grass in a small, sunny back yard with ground cover. What are your recommendations for a drought-tolerant evergreen ground cover? We will till a...
view the full question and answer

Transplanting non-native mimosas in Braintree MA
August 10, 2010 - I want to transplant some baby mimosa trees. Have tried in past and they just die.
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP
© 2014 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center