Blue Chip Butterfly Bush Plant Profile

A Noninvasive Buddleia

Blue Chip Buddleia in bloom.
David Beaulieu

Blue Chip is a butterfly bush, so named because they actually do attract a variety of butterflies and bees. The fact that Blue Chip 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. Its miniature stature is also a plus, but its major selling point is its departure from the invasive nature of the species to which it belongs.

Blue Chip is the name of a hand-pollinated cultivar, but you will often find this plant listed as Blue Chip Lo and Behold. The reason: Blue Chip was the first cultivar in a miniature butterfly bush series. The name of the bush series, created at the Raulston Arboretum in North Carolina, is Lo and Behold.

Botanical Name Buddleia davidii (Blue Chip is a cultivar name)
Common Name Blue Chip butterfly bush
Plant Type Broadleafdeciduous, flowering shrubs
Mature Size Height of 24 to 36 inches, with a similar width
Sun Exposure Full sun
Soil Type Well-drained
Soil pH Slightly acidic to neutral
Bloom Time Mid-summer to October
Flower Color Light bluish-purple
Hardiness Zones 5 to 9
Native Area East Asia

Growing Blue Chip Butterfly Bush

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 listed as being from mid-summer to into October. If they receive more shade than they should, this will delay bloom time. There is no need to deadhead these plants.

Besides attracting butterflies, the shrub attracts hummingbirds and so is useful in hummingbird gardens.

Light

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

Soil

Blue chip butterfly bush needs well-drained soil; 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. But, 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. 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.

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.

There is not one agreed-upon time for pruning butterfly bush. Some gardeners leave the brown branches in place during most of the winter (in hopes that they will provide a bit of protection from the cold) and prune the plant back to the ground in late winter, in early spring, or when the plant starts to leaf out.

A greater number of gardeners trim the plant's stems down to the ground in early winter, giving the garden a cleaner look. The butterfly bush will re-emerge from its root system in spring. Thus, despite being classified as a shrub, it is often treated as if it were an herbaceous perennial.

Uses in Landscaping

This shrub can be employed in the landscape in many ways; for example, in cottage gardens. Some will want to mass Blue Chip butterfly bushes together along a property line to form a border, while others may install them in foundation beds.

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.

Blue Chip: A Noninvasive Butterfly Bush

Buddleia is indigenous to East Asia. Like many plants from China and countries in that region, the typical Buddleia grown in certain parts of North America has acted in an invasive manner. It is not invasive everywhere, but it is invasive in many areas, such as the Pacific Northwest; ask your local Cooperative Extension if in doubt. But with this particular cultivar, developers have succeeded in producing a noninvasive shrub.

Horticulturist, Tim Wood says that studies have shown that Blue Chip is not Buddleia davidii but rather a complex hybrid that contains three species. Wood notes that this cultivar is "male sterile" (it does not produce pollen) and produces very little seed (even when grown in near other cultivars).