great shrub: the ‘other’ butterfly bush
IT’S THE BUTTERFLY BUSH YOU DON’T SEE SO OFTEN, but the one I like best. Not because I’m finicky–this is no rare or expensive plant, and is as gangly and sometimes unkempt as its cousins–but Buddleia alternifolia ‘Argentea’ just makes me happy every June. Apparently the butterflies agree. OK, maybe calling it a “great shrub” is a stretch, since it’s just OK except when it’s in bloom, but I do love the old thing. Doesn’t that count for something? Here’s why:
You don’t cut the fountain (or little-leaf) butterfly bush to the ground each year (as you do here with the more common B. davidii cultivars) so it gets really big (about 12 feet tall and just as wide) even in my cold Zone 5, an arching, fountain-like cascade of lavender blossoms produced on last year’s wood.
It’s fast growing.
Its foliage is willow-like, and in the ‘Argentea’ (meaning silver-leaved) cultivar I grow, a pleasing grayish-green, if not wildly silver.
Its flowers are fragrant, like those of its cousins. Deadheading after bloom will somewhat reduce the messy twiginess, especially of older plants.
And like I said, the butterflies really like it.