Butterfly Bush Nebraska: What to Consider When Planting

The butterfly bush is a perennial evergreen shrub that grows to about two feet tall. It has two types of flowers, can grow in sun or shade, and can be trimmed to your desired size. They will help make your garden look stunning and draw butterflies like any other plant. This post offers the information you need for anyone who wants to plant a butterfly bush in Nebraska but does not know where to start.

How to plant the Butterfly Bush

Butterfly Bush Nebraska

Choose a sunny location in your yard that receives 6 hours or more of direct sunlight daily. The location should be free from strong winds and temperatures that often fall below freezing in winter.

Select a healthy Butterfly Bush, about 3 feet to 4 feet tall, with healthy green foliage and no insect damage or disease (meaning it has not been infested by molds or fungus). The leaves should be at least 2 inches long. Ensure the roots are moist when you place them into the container; otherwise, they will sink into the compost and wither away quickly.

Now dig a hole about 2 inches deeper than the root ball, and lift the roots out of the container into the hole. Then put the container on its sides in your prepared hole, setting it down gently so that you do not dislodge any of the roots. Finally, sprinkle some seed over everything and tamp in gently with your hands to help settle it into place.

Water well to settle any loose soil and then lightly water again. Put a rock or similar weight on top of your container to stay standing still while you do other things around the yard (such as mowing and weeding).


If your Butterfly Bush has flowers, you can prune them by cutting off all flower stems at the plant’s base with a pair of pruning shears or a sharp knife. That prevents pollination and encourages the plant to develop its next batch of flowers for you to enjoy. It is best to prune off dead leaves or branches when you notice them. You will want to keep the foliage looking neat, so cutting it back regularly makes your butterfly bush look attractive for longer periods and helps keep it growing healthy.

When to Harvest the Butterfly Bush in Nebraska

Butterfly Bush Nebraska

Butterfly bushes grow almost everywhere in the US.  If you’re going to grow one in Nebraska, you’d want to plant later than you would in Alabama though.

Although you can harvest the butterfly bush in Nebraska at any time from spring until the end of summer, harvesting it in early spring is best. That will help it produce many more blooms and bring in more hummingbirds and butterflies.

If you are fortunate to grow your butterfly bush near a pond or stream, you know what an excellent place for hummingbirds it is! The appropriate time to harvest the plant is right after a good rain like we had this year. Your plant will be thirsty after the rain, so harvest at this time so that your plant will be able to use all the extra water.

How to Harvest the Butterfly Bush in Nebraska

Butterfly Bush Nebraska

To harvest the flowers:

Cut the flower stalk off about 2 inches above a leaf.

Do not pull at it, or you will remove all the leaves off too.

Allow a few inches between your plant and the ground so that you do not accidentally uproot your plant.

After you have harvested it, remove any dried-out leaves and ensure to let the butterfly bush recover for a few hours before watering to give it time to seal its stem.

Common Problems With Butterfly Bush Plants

Butterfly Bush Nebraska

Powdery Mildew

It is caused by a fungus Podosphaera xanthii, which grows best in humid and moist weather. Mildew can appear as brown spots and patches on the leaves or the crotch of the plant’s branches.

You can best prevent that by letting the plant dry out between watering; it will not spread or multiply after it has infected itself. You can also prevent that by cutting back the leaves continually or spreading a light ground cloth around the plant to keep in the area with high humidity during day and night.


Dieback is a common problem with Butterfly Bushes the first sign is yellowing the leaves and the lack of leaf growth. If that occurs, all of the leaves will die off, spreading to all parts of your plant. You can prevent that by cutting off dead sections or pruning back weak branches. If this happens quickly, you will have to start with a new butterfly bush plant.

Poison Ivy and Poison Oak Rashes

It can be caused by contact with any plants containing urushiol, which is found in Poison Ivy and Poison Oak Leaves, twigs, or bark on contact from accidentally touching something contaminated, also known as a rash.

You should avoid touching the plant to reduce urushiol contact if that happens. You can prevent that by staying away from any plants with poison ivy or oak leaves. The best cure is to keep away from it by wearing long sleeves and long pants to avoid touching the plant.

Black Limbs and Holes in Leaves

The Black Limbs and Holes in Leaves of the Butterfly Bush are caused by a fungus known as Botrytis cinerea. The leaves of the plant wilt, curl and die in the fall. That is referred to as “butterfly bush” disease.

Symptoms may include irregularly shaped leaves with brown spots or colonies of black centers on yellowish-green stems. The fungus spreads from one leaf to other leaves on the same branch via twig transfer during growth or wind dispersal after leaf fall. You should remove the infected leaves for effective general and individual control.

The best way to prevent the black limbs is to keep all the trees healthy. That involves watering, fertilizing, and removing fallen leaves and broken branches or stems. You can also remove these infected leaves by spraying with a mixture of 1/2 cup of Clorox bleach per gallon of water. If you do not remove the infected leaves in early fall, they will not be beneficial during the following spring and summer while they are still attached to the bush.


Aphids and other plant pests can cause this. The first sign of this problem is a loss of leaves and browning of leaves. Eventually, the leaf stalks can turn black and die, leaving holes in their place.

The best treatment for this is to remove all infected plant material and dispose of it properly. The inside of the leaves can also be affected by the pest called canker sores. You can treat that by taking off the leaves with a sharp knife and then disinfecting with a strong bleach solution.

Butterfly Bush Nebraska: Final thoughts

Depending on how adaptable the climate is in your area, you can use the butterfly bush as an annual or a perennial. Planting it annually makes it perfect for container gardening and will require you to transplant it after one season of growth.

It can also be grown in any soil; however, you should avoid acidic soil because the leaves will turn yellow from lack of chlorophyll production. Further, gardeners should monitor the common issues that affect the growth of the butterfly bush plant, including powdery mildew, dieback, poison ivy and poison oak rashes, black limbs, and holes in leaves and borers/cankers.