How to Grow and Care for Blue Chip Butterfly Bush

A Noninvasive Buddleia

Butterfly bush plant with purple flower spikes

The Spruce / Evgeniya Vlasova

Blue Chip butterfly bush displays a compact, mounded habit, being categorized as a miniature Buddleia. Its numerous, small flowers form in showy spikes. Dubbed a bluish-purple, the flower really contains only a hint of bluish color. Flowering time is from midsummer into October.

One major selling point of this hand-pollinated cultivar is that is is not invasive, unlike the standard butterfly bushes, which have become invasive in many parts of North America. With this particular cultivar, developers have succeeded in producing a shrub that is sterile so it does not spread.

Blue Chip should be planted in the spring so it has the entire growing season to grow a strong root system, which is important for successfully overwintering it.

Common Name Blue Chip butterfly bush
Botanical Name Buddleia davidii 'Blue Chip'
Family Scrophulariaceae
Plant Type Shrub
Mature Size 24-36 in. tall, 24-36 in. wide
Sun Exposure Full
Soil Type Well-drained
Soil pH Acidic, neutral
Bloom Time Summer, fall
Flower Color Blue, purple
Hardiness Zones 5-9 (USDA)
Native Area Cultivar, no native range

Blue Chip Butterfly Bush Care

Blue Chip is an excellent addition to a pollinator garden because it attracts butterflies as well as hummingbirds and bees. The fact that this butterfly bush blossoms during the latter part of the growing season means that it will display fall flowers at a time when few other shrubs are flowering, helping you to extend the sequence of bloom in your garden.

With its miniature stature, the shrub fits in small yards. It can also be grown in containers.

Other than making sure that the shrub receives full sun, there is not much to pay attention to when planting it. If the shrub receives more shade than it should, this will delay bloom time.

Blue chip is generally a low-maintenance plant and there is no need to deadhead the spent flowers.

Butterfly bush plant with purple flower spikes closeup

The Spruce / Evgeniya Vlasova

Butterfly bush with orange butterfly on top of purple flower spike

The Spruce / Evgeniya Vlasova

Butterfly bush with purple flower spikes in garden

The Spruce / Evgeniya Vlasova

Butterfly bush purple flower spike on thin stem closeup

The Spruce / Evgeniya Vlasova

Light

This plant needs full sun to achieve the best display of flowers. The plant can survive in lower light levels but will not bloom as fully.

Soil

Blue chip butterfly bush likes a slightly acidic to neutral soil (pH 6.0-8.0) with good drainage; otherwise, it can suffer from root rot. For the same reason, at planting time, if you have clayey soil, make your planting hole shallower than normal, so that the base of the plant sits slightly above ground level.

Water

Water young plants well to help them get established in their first year. After that, buddleia is content with about an inch per week through rainfall or irrigation. Once mature, the plants are considered to be reasonably drought-tolerant shrubs.

Fertilizer

Butterfly bush is not a heavy feeder. But if you would like to give your plant a boost, use a balanced fertilizer in spring. For the amount to use, follow the product label instructions. Mulch in the fall for winter protection in cold climates, but keep the mulch away from the base of the plant to avoid root rot.

Types of Blue Chip Butterfly Bush

'Blue Chip' was the first cultivar in a miniature butterfly bush series named Lo & Behold, therefore you will often find this plant listed as 'Blue Chip Lo & Behold', The series was created at the Raulston Arboretum in North Carolina.

Newer additions in the series include:

'Lo & Behold Blue Chip Jr.', a more compact cultivar that reaches 1 to 2 feet in height and spread, with rich lavender-blue fragrant flowers

'Lo & Behold Pink Micro Chip', a dwarf cultivar only growing up to 18 to 24 inches in height and spread, with orchid-pink flowers and a mounded growth habit

'Lo & Behold Purple Haze' with fragrant purple-blue flowers and a spreading growth habit

'Lo & Behold Lilac Chip', another dwarf cultivar with a spread and height of 18 to 24 inches and soft lavender-pink flowers

'Lo & Behold Ice Chip', a dwarf cultivar with fragrant white flowers

Pruning Blue Chip Butterfly Bush

Butterfly bush blooms on new wood. Pruning is optional; it can be done if you wish to keep your shrub on the small side. Since Blue Chip butterfly bush is naturally compact, there is even less reason to prune. But pruning does seem to promote better flowering.

Leave the woody stems and branches in place during the winter because they provide some protection against the cold. Only prune the plant back in the spring after green leaf buds have appeared. Cut the stems back just above those buds.

Propagating

All cultivars of the Blue Chip butterfly bush are trademarked and it is an infringement of copyright law to propagate the plant, either vegetatively from cuttings, by plant division, or from seeds.

Potting and Repotting

Because of its compact size, this variety makes a good container plant. Pick a container that is at least twice as deep as the nursery container it comes in, with large drainage holes. Terracotta is ideal because it lets excess moisture evaporate and the material does not heat up as much as plastic in the summer heat. Fill it with lightweight, fast-draining potting mix.

Remember that a container plant needs much more frequent watering, once a day on hot summer days. Check the soil moisture level daily and water as needed.

Overwintering

Butterfly bush is hardy to USDA zone 5 and does not need winter protection when planted in garden soil. Container plants, however, are prone to root damage from freezing temperatures and need winterizing. There are several options, from placing the container in a sheltered location, to building an insulating silo around the container.

Common Pests & Plant Diseases

Butterfly bushes are rarely bothered by serious pests and diseases. Spider mites and, in southern climates, nematodes may be a problem.

How to Get Blue Chip Butterfly Bush to Bloom

Lack of sunlight is one of the primary reasons why Blue Chip butterfly bush fails to bloom. If is it in a location with too much shade, you don't necessarily need to move the plant; it can help to prune other trees and shrubs nearby to let more sunlight in.

Common Problems with Blue Chip Butterfly Bush

Yellowing and dropping leaves may be caused by rhizoctonia, a fungal root rot that occurs in wet soils with poor drainage, which butterfly bushes won't tolerate.

FAQ
  • Where should I plant a Blue Chip butterfly bush?

    Larger types of Buddleia are typically grown in the back row of layered plantings, but this more compact version is well suited to placement in the middle row of a flower bed. It can be planted in cottage gardens, as mass plantings along a property line to form a border, or in foundation beds.

  • What makes the Blue Chip butterfly bush noninvasive?

    The Lo & Behold butterfly bush cultivars have been bred to be sterile. They only form a very small percentage of viable seeds so they cannot spread uncontrollably like other butterfly bushes.

  • Why should you not plant a butterfly bush?

    Butterfly bushes, unless they are approved seedless butterfly bush cultivars, are considered invasive plants in many states. Oregon has even banned its sale by placing it in noxious weed quarantine.

Article Sources
The Spruce uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Butterfly Bush Approved Cultivars. Oregon Department of Agriculture.