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If you fancy some butterflies and bees in your garden, you can never go wrong with a Buddleia. This is why there are also more commonly known as the Butterfly Bush. Buddleias are exotic-looking flowers with around 140 species on different continents from large varieties such as Buddleia ‘Royal Red’ to dwarf Buddleia such as Buddleia ‘Buzz’ and ‘Blue Chip’. The one thing that they all have in common is that they are incredibly easy to grow as well as to take cuttings from which is why it is a favourite in most gardens.
Since Buddleias propagate through seeds or cuttings, it is crucial to know when and how to get the cuttings as this is by far the best way to propagate them.
In this guide, I answer one of the questions most people have in regards to Buddleias, which is how to take Buddleia cuttings. By the end of the article, you will have all the information you need to make sure your Buddleia cuttings thrive.
What you will need
- Seed/cutting compost (or mix 50% multi-purpose compost with 50% grit sand)
- Perlite – for added drainage and retaining moisture
- Rooting powder
- Small pots or trays with seperate cells
- Propagator (optional, but it will speed up rooting)
- Pair of sharp secatuers of knife
When to take cuttings from Buddleias
Softwood cuttings are the best type of cutting to take because they are easy to propagate and usually take much better than hardwood cuttings. Softwood cuttings are taken around late Spring or early Summer before the stems begin to harden, hence why they are called softwood cutting.
I recommend getting the cuttings when the plant is well hydrated, which is usually in the early morning. After taking the cuttings place them in a bag or container in water until you are ready to plant them, but you want to plant them within an hour if not sooner.
How to propagate softwood cuttings from your Buddleias
Taking softwood Buddleia cuttings is quite simple if you follow these steps. Remember to take these in Spring or early Summer and from fresh growth:
- Mix multi-purpose compost with about 30% perlite to get a well-drained cutting compost that will promote root growth.
- Take your cuttings, these should be around 4-6 inches in length. It is important that the cuttings have no flower buds to maximize nutrient resources.
- Ensure you remove all the leaves apart from the top leaves. I usually cut the set of top leaves in half but this is optional.
- With a clean sharp pair of secatuers, make a neat cut under the node and dip the cutting in your preferred rooting hormone, any will do. Make a small hole in the compost you created and insert the cutting.
- Choose whether you will place several cuttings in one container or spread them out in cells if you are using trays.
- Water the cuttings and ensure the soil drains well because Buddleias need proper drainage to thrive.
- If you have a propagator, use it to speed up the rooting process and in around two weeks you should see some cuttings taking root. If you do not have a propagator, just place some canes in the pot and cover with a plastic bag ensuring the pot is covered to help maintain the moisture. It is crucial to remove the plastic bag frequently to provide ventilation and prevent rot.
- Place the cuttings in a location where they can get some sun whilst avoiding being scorched.
- Once the cuttings are established and have plenty of root, pot the cuttings on into larger pots and grow them on until you are ready to plant them out.
How to take semi-hardwood and hardwood cuttings from Buddleias
If you are not lucky enough to get softwood cuttings, you can still take semi-hardwood and hardwood cuttings. Semi-hardwood cuttings are best taken around Summer when the wood starts to harden while hardwood cuttings are taken in the Autumn and Winter months.
These types of cuttings are taken from the more mature wood. Semi-hardwood cuttings are taken in Summer from wood that has started to harden. Hardwood cuttings are taken in Autumn and Winter from the mature wood.
To take either semi-hardwood or hardwood cuttings is also easy to do. Follow the simple steps below:
- Take a cutting that is around 6-12 inches long and cut under a leaf bud at the base.
- Place the cutting into a root hormone of your choice and then plant it in the seed and cutting compost in a pot of your choice or tray. The composition of your soil should be at least 50% grit sand and 50% compost if you make your own.
- Water the cutting and expose it to some warm (but not hot) sun. Prolonged exposure to the sun will prove detrimental due to intense heat and the loss of water. The cuttings should be watered until the roots appear around Spring.
- After the roots are established, transfer them to larger pots before transplanting them to the garden.
- Be sure to keep supplying the Buddleias with nutrients to promote an optimal flowering season.
Read next: Learn how to grow buddleias in pots here
The importance of deadheading and pruning Buddleias
Deadheading permits the plant to save on energy rather than producing unwanted seedlings. When the flowers start fading, you need to remove them by hand leaving the leaves intact. The leaves need to remain to continue in energy production for the plant.
After deadheading, pruning is next. Unlike some shrubs, Buddleias require intense pruning particularly species like the Buddleia Asiatica and the larger growing varieties. This is because Buddleias are tough plants that can thrive in hard conditions. I prefer to prune my Buddleias around Autumn or early Spring for the first session and around Autumn for the second session.
Pruning is an excellent way of regulating the shrub’s vigorous growth and encouraging more blooms.
Deadhead Buddleia as the flowers fade to encourage a continuous supply of flowers and take off every spent flower at the end of the year to prevent unwanted seedlings.
Be on the lookout for pests
While Buddleias are tough plants, they are susceptible to attacks by caterpillars, aphids, and capsid bugs. You can choose to use pheromone traps or pesticides or use other insects like ladybugs to control infestations. Ladybirds are preferable for manageable infestations; pesticides will tackle a large infestation faster but some people don’t like using pesticides and in this case soap and water can be effective.
Buddleias flower beautifully in August and they attract plenty of butterflies, bees, birds and other beneficial pollinators. When they are in full flower and your garden is bustling with butterflies, you will truly appreciate the beauty that comes with Buddleias.