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Which butterfly bushes are not invasive?

Though it may come as a surprise to the people who struggle to grow it at all, there are places where butterfly bush is invasive - so much so that Washington State and Oregon have both banned it from being sold or planted there. In response to this, plant breeders like Dr. Dennis Werner of NCSU have devoted their talents to developing non-invasive varieties that have the color, long-blooming, and butterfly-attracting ability of conventional butterfly bush but without the risk of spreading into the wild.

To qualify as a non-invasive variety, a butterfly bush must show less than 2% germination and derive from what's known as a wide cross. This means that the plant breeder takes two distinct species of Buddleia, only one of which may be the standard B. davidii, and makes a cross. This typically results in the offspring producing few to no seeds; it may also mean that the pollen is not viable from a plant fertility standpoint, so it also minimizes the risk of the non-invasive variety accidentally increasing seed set on any plants that have escaped to the wild. 

If you are looking for non-invasive butterfly bushes, these are the varieties that currently qualify, and are approved for sale in Oregon and Washington (albeit under the name "summer lilac" to distinguish them from butterfly bushes).

Lo and Behold Blue Chip butterfly bush in bloom and covered with monarch butterflies.
Lo & Behold® 'Blue Chip'
Lo & Behold Blue Chip Jr butterfly bush blooming with spike blue purple flowers. Lo & Behold® 'Blue Chip Jr.'
Lo & Behold Pink Micro Chip butterfly bush next to a Jack Russell terrier puppy for scale.
Lo & Behold® 'Pink Micro Chip'
Lo and Behold Purple Haze butterfly bush covered in purple blooms. Lo & Behold 'Purple Haze'
Miss Molly butterfly bush has pink red flower spikes  'Miss Molly'
Miss Ruby butterfly bush has deep pink flowers  'Miss Ruby'
Miss Violet butterfly bush blooming with purple flowers  'Miss Violet'

 

 

* The varieties Lo & Behold Ruby Chip and 'Miss Pearl' qualify as non-invasive but are still awaiting their "official" designation. 

If you're planting to attract butterflies, remember that they need more than just butterfly bushes to truly feel at home! They also need a diversity of flowers to feed on, and host plants where they can lay eggs and allow their young to prosper. View our selection of native and host plants for more ideas.

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