Growing and Saving the Seed of Butterfly Bush

Latin name Buddleia davidii, commonly called butterfly bush, is a perennial small shrub ranging from 3-5 feet tall spreading 3-5 feet across, and covered in vibrant flower spikes. This long-season bloomer (June-September) is extremely attractive to bees, hummingbirds, and of course, butterflies! Perennial from USDA zones 5-9.



Native to to Sichuan and Hubei provinces in central China, and to Japan.


  • Ornamental
  • Landscape design
  • Butterfly gardens


  • To germinate, you can direct sow seeds ¼ inch deep in place in the fall. The cold and wet over-winter conditions will help break the seed coat down, and the seedlings will germinate in the following spring.
  • Alternatively, you can start seeds indoors in late winter/early spring. Sow seeds ¼ deep in a tray and place into a clear plastic bag. Store the bagged tray in the refrigerator for 4-6 weeks; this will mimic the cold and wet of winter and urge the seed coat to break down. Remove the tray and place in a sunny location or under lights, with a temperature of about 75 F. Seeds will then germinate in 21-28 days after removing from the fridge.


  • Remove plastic bag as soon as seedlings germinate and pot up once plants reach 3-4 inches tall.
  • Harden off and transplant out to the garden after last chance of frost has passed.
  • Plants prefer full sun, well-drained soil, and average moisture.
  • Cut bush back in late winter to encourage best growth.


  • No particular pests or diseases.
  • In some areas such as Oregon, butterfly bush is considered to be invasive. In order to prevent unwanted spread, you can cut back flower blooms once they have browned out.


Very easy to save seed.

  • Just allow flowers to turn brown and dry on plant.
  • Cut dried flower spikes and gently shake the very tiny seeds onto a clean surface and carefully save in a sealed jar or plastic bag.
  • Store in a cool, dark, dry place, and don't forget to expose them to cold temperatures next season.