Monday, November 28, 2011

My favorite bush - Buddleja davidii 'Santana'

It's the last stunted blossom of the season for the beautiful 'Santana' butterfly bush now that freezing temperatures have arrived.

I have written about my Santana before - I just can't seem to say enough good things about it.  The blooms are a glowing magenta purple, and the variegated foliage is beautifully edged with gold.

The Santana has been full of blooms all summer thanks to regular deadheading every couple of weeks.  Out of all of my pollinator friendly flowers and bushes, this one seemed to attract the most butterflies and bees by far.  Here in zone 7b, it also keeps a lot of its beautiful leaves throughout our mild winters.

A bush that blooms for months, has beautiful foliage, and attracts butterflies?  No wonder it's my favorite shrub!

In its second year, my Santana is 4' tall and 7' wide.  Yep, 7' wide - one of the only things I don't care for about this bush is its rather messy and splaying habit.

It is also rumored to be a short lived cultivar, sadly.

This Buddleja davidii 'Santana' is in full sun and in one of the best drained spots in my clay yard, which is good, as they can be prone to rot.  Now that it is established, I hardly ever water it.  Buddleja davidii (also spelled Buddleia davidii) bloom on new wood, so I will prune it down to a couple feet tall in late winter.  We'll see if some pruning can help the splaying habit somewhat.

But either way, I love this bush..

.. and I don't think I'm the only one.


  1. Those 2 pictures with the butterflies are gorgeous! But I am curious, do the butterflies lay eggs on the plant too? My dessert roses (adenium) attracts lots of green caterpillars and always suffers from their ravenous appetite :( Sigh, I'm always torn between destroying them or saving the flower buds.

  2. Indie, I have never seen this cultivar before, so after reading your glowing review and seeing your beautiful pictures, I was off to do a search of the internet about buddleja. Turns out, like so many wonderful plants, Santana would be borderline hardy here in WI. We are considered Zone 4 here, and the plant's requirements list it as Z5, but that doesn't mean I wouldn't try it anyway! Some winters are easier than others and if it is short-lived, well, it would be worth it just to see the blooms and butterflies for as long as the plant graced my garden.

    I see they love well-drained soil (we have sand) but their care requirements also say they love moisture too, so this does sound like an all-purpose plant. I had a buddleja years ago that died out. I loved that one, but your Santana is amazing. A definite must-have.

  3. Hi Indie,
    I also can't say enough good things about Buddleia in general - I've not grown the variegated one, it's very pretty! Another great thing about this plant is that it roots very easily from cuttings. Just start a few new ones in your windowsill every Winter. They grow so fast that it doesn't matter how small they start out each season.

  4. at botanicbay, we also cherish the buddleia davidii, we must have planted 5 at least I believe. Sadly this year, we didn't see many butterflies ! Lovely photos as usual.
    And thanks for your comment on my student's trip to New Caledonia.

  5. Oh no, you're certainly not the only one! I have a purple and a pink one...I just love them in late summer when they are covered with butterflies. :)

  6. That last photo with the Butterfly is stunning! I can see why you love this shrub. Its a winner!

  7. It is the best loved nectar plant ever. (and of course I can't grow it in my yard, it keeps dying on me) Congratulations on this beautiful plant :-)

  8. I'm a fan of Buddleja too, it's so pretty and I love the butterflies. Here, we see them growing wild by the roads and they seed everywhere, but it's always the same variety. I'm inspired to investigate which kind I might get for my patch!

  9. Yours is beautiful. I tried one this spring but it didn't make it through the heat of summer. I'll try another when this drought's just too much of a butterfly magnet to not try again!

  10. Yes Indie, you are not alone in loving it. We don't have it here but i've seen it in temperate countries and i love it on sight, it even has green leaves. Yours are lovelier with the variegations. But the last photo with the vivid swallowtail is perfect.

  11. Have you seen the bicolor buddelia (might be a misspelling). It changes color from end to end. I don't have one yet, but will next year. Lovely butterfly bush! I have two and love them both - as do the hummingbirds and butterflies.

  12. tanntoot - I think Buckeyes will lay eggs on them, but I haven't seen any caterpillar damage on my butterfly bush at all. Normally I think butterflies prefer other plants. That's too bad about your desert rose - they are so pretty!

    Karen - Maybe in a somewhat sheltered spot? I think the davidii cultivars are the more cold hardy butterfly bushes, at least. It surely couldn't hurt to try!

    Katie - I didn't know this; I'm definitely going to have to try some cuttings this winter!

    Celine - That is too bad you didn't see any butterflies! Hopefully next year they will find them!

    Landbohaven - Tak!

    Hanni - I planted several other butterfly bushes as well this year - some purple ones. Hopefully by next year they will also be covered with butterflies too!

    Christine - Thank you!

    Gone Tropical - That's too bad it keeps dying for you! I have another butterfly bush with a different variegation that is in a less well drained area, and it is barely hanging on, sadly.

  13. Claire - That's so interesting that it grows wild so much there. I think we're supposed to have a native butterfly bush here in the southeastern US. I've only seen one growing wild in the forest around here, but it's so close to other houses that it could just be a stray offspring.

    Cat - You guys had such a bad summer, that must have been so hard on your garden. Hopefully next year will be better!

    Andrea - Thank you so much!

    ignorant gardener - I have only seen pictures - they look pretty! That's awesome that the hummers enjoy yours. I haven't seen any on mine yet.

  14. Indie your Buddleia is a stunner!, 'Butterfly Bush' is one of my favorite plants also; there are so many varieties to experience and their fragrance is intoxicating - I am fortunate to have 7 Buddleia plants in my garden, each of them different. I encourage friends to try Buddleia 'Black Knight'.

    Karen, I garden in MI Zone 5b and think you could grow many varieties of Buddleia with success. If you have a winter-protected area which gets full sun during the blooming season and mulch very well over the winter, most Buddleia plants bloom on new wood. Many (most) can be pruned back hard and easily covered.

  15. Debra - Thanks for the info from a more northern gardener! I've seen the 'Black Knight' - it is a stunning one!

  16. Lovely flowers you've got there! I;m a little bit jealous! Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

  17. Love the red house! The last time I got new carpet I went for a pretty shade of burgundy because I wanted COLOR! Just learned in a county extension class that African Blue Basil is a fantastic pollinator. I plan to find some this spring because it was loaded with bees. It was also huge and showy. It is sterile so you have to find a cutting -- no seeds.


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