Butterfly bush is one of the toughest shrubs around- it thrives in USDA zones 5 to 9 and won’t require too much when the first frost arrives.
To ensure your favorite plant survives the cold temperature here are some tips for Butterfly Bush winter care.
How to Care for Butterfly Bush in Winter
The good news is that the butterfly bush is cold hardy and can take temperatures of up to minus 20 degrees.
If you live in zones 5 through 9 then there’s a chance that you won’t have to do anything but allow the leaves and stems to die back. They come back in springtime and will be more vigorous than ever.
The process might be different for butterfly bushes in containers and those grown in a yard or garden. If your butterfly bush is situated in the yard, you can cover the plant with a light blanket and remove it when temperature rises to acceptable degrees.
For container plants, you can observe a process called ‘overwintering’ where you bring the pot indoors and in a warmer location. The only time you can bring it outside is when all risks of frost have passed and it’s early spring.
Watering and fertilizing are important aspects in caring for butterfly bushes in winter. As you may know, winter is the time when the shrub lies dormant and as such it won’t need fertilizing.
You can water if it hasn’t snowed or rained for a month and only during a sunny day. Otherwise, you can leave nature to do her work and pick up the watering can only when spring arrives.
Additionally, you can add a thick layer of mulch around the roots of the butterfly bush to keep it insulated against the cold.
Indoor Butterfly Bush Winter Care
For those in USDA zone 4 or lower then it may be a good idea to overwinter your butterfly bush before the first frost arrives. Throwing a blanket or adding mulch around the roots won’t likely help in this regard, and your plant stands a higher chance of surviving when you bring it indoors.
You can move your butterfly bush by digging it up and transporting it in a container. The best time to do so is around late summer to early fall to give the shrub time to acclimate to its new living conditions and environment.
Observe proper watering but slowly diminish the amount a few weeks before the first date of frost. It’s recommended that you pick a warm and bright location for your butterfly bush, and water only about once a month until spring arrives. From there, you can wait for the ground to warm up then replant it in its original spot.
The same process can be applied to container plants. You can bring them indoors and keep them warm until the season passes, then bring them out to their original spot in your deck or yard.
Should You Prune or Cut Back Butterfly Bush in Winter?
The quick answer is no, you don’t really need to do some cutting or pruning before winter. It’s normal for butterfly bushes to lose its foliage in late fall, but this doesn’t mean that the plant has died. You can save yourself additional work by leaving the stems as is. In fact, pruning might lead to eventual damage and a wasted effort.
For those who really want to maintain their butterfly bush, they can remove the dead stems, yellow leaves and spent flowerheads as soon as autumn arrives, but it shouldn’t be later than fall. You can do a bit of shaping but don’t cut off more than a third of the whole shrub.
Leaving the stems intact primes the butterfly bush with dormant buds that will sprout as soon as spring arrives. Plus, you can wait for the new growth to arrive and cut just right above it.
Pruning is also not recommended until you see new stems or leaves coming out of the old wood. If you’re planning to add mulch to the plant’s base you should hold off on the watering for longer since moisture can get trapped in.
Fertilization is a no-no for butterfly bushes in winter since they’re in a dormant state. The best time to apply them is during spring or early summer.
Related Article: Butterfly Bush Georgia Growth and Care Guide