Growing Buddleias in Pots

Growing Buddleias in Pots

Last updated on March 8th, 2022

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Even if you do not have much space, you cannot miss out on the chance of adding a buddleia or two to your garden. Buddleia bushes are famous for their fragrance, charming blooms, and ability to attract pollinators such as butterflies.

There are several varieties of buddleia including some of my favourites which are dwarf cultivars that grow well in pots although you can grow the larger varieties if you have a large enough pot and prune them hard in early spring to keep them compact and at an attractive size.

In this guide, you’ll find different dwarf buddleia varieties which I recommend which are great for smaller containers, and how to grow them in pots and get the most out of them. Let’s dive in!

How to grow buddleia in pots

Choosing a pot

Choose a pot that is 2 to 3 times larger than the current pot it’s growing in. I like to use heavier clay or ceramic pots as they are heavy and help keep the plant upright in windy weather. Another good option for large buddleia, the davidii varieties you don’t tend to think of as suitable for growing in pots will do well in large half whiskey barrels.

Make sure the pot you use has drainage holes in the bottom and cover them up with some broken pot/crockery to help prevent the holes from becoming clogged.

The smaller dwarf varies such as the ‘blue chip’ and ‘Buzz’ varieties will grow well in surprisingly small pots making them ideal for smaller areas such as balconies too.

Buddleia grown in a pot attracting butterflies into the garden

Planting buddleia in containers

Buddleia bushes are fairly low maintenance, and if you plant them in well-drained fertile soils, they tend to thrive. So when it comes to pots, don’t use garden soil as they won’t do well as you could be transferring pests or soil diseases plus is not very free draining. It’s a big no no.

I like to use organic soil based compost, a John Innes potting compost is ideal as it’s heavy so keeps the plant upright but it is also free draining but also retains moisture well.

Only plant the buddleia to the same level it was in the original pot, don’t plant it any deeper and leave about an inch or two above the soil to the top of the pot. This helps with watering so that the water doesn’t just run over the edge of the pot.

Once it is planted give it a good watering. I like to allow the surface of the soil to dry out between watering before watering again but don’t let it soil totally dry out. They usually need repotting every 2 to 3 years and eventually will need a pot that is around 2ft wide, this is a half whisky barrel makes a good planter

Positioning

Buddleia like as much sun as they can get to position it where it will get plenty of sunshine, this will ensure it produces the most flowers

Pruning

In this guide, I show you when and how to prune Buddleia bushes. Prune in spring just after new growth shoots about 30-40 cm above the ground

Pruning around autumn or spring will help reduce woody sections and encourage an abundance of flowers. I like to prune them back hard to around 20-30cm when grown in pots so they do not get too large. Most varieties including davidii and weyeriana are pruned in autumn/spring, however, there are a couple of varieties including Buddleia Globosa that flower on the previous year’s growth so they need pruning after flowering usually mid summer.

You can learn more about pruning buddleia here

Pruning together with adding a general fertiliser as the new growth emerges will help the buddleia spring back to life.

Remember to deadhead faded blooms throughout the flowering season to encourage continuous unveiling of new flowers and to avoid them self-seeding and becoming invasive.

Propagating buddleias

I explain step by step how to take Buddleia cuttings including softwood in spring and hardwood in autumn.

Buddleia can be propagated through seeds, cuttings or by dividing the roots. Since some cultivars are seedless, use cuttings to propagate the plants easily.

If you plan on using seeds, start them indoors as spring comes around and transplant the seedlings outside after hardening them.

Softwood cuttings taken in spring or summer are suitable for transplanting. Dip the cuttings in rooting hormone to increase the chances of root establishment.

Ensure that you select a sizeable pot to allow the roots to spread out as needed. Rootbound problems stagnate the plant’s growth because the roots are too tangled to take up nutrients effectively.

You can see my guide on propagating buddleia from cutting in this guide

My favorite dwarf buddleia varieties

Pink dwarf butterfly bush

You’ll find quite a number of varieties available from nurseries due to the work of passionate breeders. Some popular varieties dwarf varieties that are perfect for containers include:

Buddleia davidii ‘Adokeep’

This is a beautiful variety bred in England that displays dark blue blooms clustered along the pinnacle. These abundant blooms are sure to attract insects and birds into your garden. Potting this variety is easy because it is compact and matures to a height of about three to five feet making it a great choice for containers.

Buddleia ‘Pink Micro Chip’

Spotting pink blooms in summer and compact foliage, this variety grows to about 24 inches at the most, thats 2ft. You don’t have to worry about the plant overtaking the garden because it is sterile and being a true dwarf variety it’s excellent for those patio containers.

Buddleia ‘Miss Ruby’

This is another cultivar that displays vibrant pink blooms; however, the structure is not as compact as the Pink Micro Chip variety. Furthermore, the five feet tall Miss Ruby is also non-invasive thanks to the limited seeds produced, if any. A great choice for those looking for something a little larger for containers.

Buddleia ‘Blue Chip’

Standing at only three feet tall once established is the Blue chip butterfly bush with purple flowers. It will not outgrow the pot, which makes it the perfect plant for a patio setting. It is also sterile and therefore, will not reproduce as fast as buddleias are notoriously known for.

Would you believe, buddleia can become invasive which is why I recently did a guide on how to kill buddleia plants here

Buddleja ‘Buzz’

The Buddleia Buzz is also suitable for patios thanks to its compact size and rich display of colour. This variety offers a range of flower colours to select from, which is convenient for those who want a colourful display.

Buddleja ‘Purple Haze’

Purple haze offers dense foliage and purple flowers that tend to weigh the pinnacle down. The cultivar grows close to the ground and spreads out thus, creating a low-profile appearance almost trailing. It is also a sterile cultivar and thus; will not produce viable seeds.

I have a complete guide on the best dwarf buddleia varieties here which is more in-depth

Conclusion

Buddleias have proven to be both tough and beautiful, and with new cultivars appearing often, you can turn your garden into a colourful wonderland in summer.

Cultivating dwarf varieties is no different from the taller plants; it is just that the size is different. By ensuring the plants get enough sun, have spacious pots, and have enough nutrients, you should have no problems with these beautiful plants being grown in pots.

Learn more about growing buddleia in my how to grow buddleia guide here


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