As the days grow longer and the temperatures rise, gardeners around the world anxiously await the arrival of their favorite springtime plants. For many, there is no greater joy than seeing a vibrant patch of purple lilacs in full bloom.
However, butterfly bushes are becoming an increasingly popular alternative to lilacs, with their bright pink and orange flowers. So which should you plant in your garden? Let’s take a closer look at their similarities and differences.
Similarities Between Lilacs vs Butterfly Bush
When the long-awaited warmth of spring returns after a dreary winter, nature begins to awaken from its slumber. One of the first signs of spring is the delicate blooming of lilacs and butterfly bushes.
Although these two plants are quite different in appearance, they share some common features. Both lilacs and butterfly bushes are highly tolerant of cold weather and bloom early in the season.
Both plants are non-native and are said to originate from Asia – lilacs in the eastern Mediterranean region and butterfly bushes in China, Korea, and Japan. They were brought to North America by early settlers, who planted them in their gardens for their beauty and fragrance.
They also produce an abundance of flowers that attract bees and other pollinators. Hummingbirds, butterflies, bees, and other insects are drawn to the nectar in the flowers, which helps to pollinate them.
Both plants thrive in full sun and can be grown in a variety of soils, making them versatile choices for any garden.
Differences Between Lilacs vs Butterfly Bush
Though they both bear beautiful blooms, lilacs and butterfly bushes are actually quite different. Lilacs belong to the genus Syringa, while butterfly bushes are in the genus Buddleja. This means that there are some key differences in their appearance and growth habits.
Lilacs typically have larger, more fragrant flowers than butterfly bushes. They also grow taller, reaching heights of up to 20 feet, depending on the cultivar.
On the other hand, butterfly bushes stay much smaller, typically reaching about five feet tall on average. Lilacs often have a single stem with many branches, while butterfly bushes are bushier and have multiple stems.
In terms of geography, most butterfly bushes cultivars cannot withstand winters that are colder than USDA zone 5. On the other hand, lilacs can thrive in colder climates, up to USDA zone 3.
Considering these differences, gardeners in colder climates should opt for lilacs, while those in warmer areas may want to plant butterfly bushes.
Important Things to Remember When Growing Butterfly Bushes and Lilacs
At the end of the day, whether you opt to choose one or you’ve decided to grow both in your landscape, it’s important to remember a few key things when growing butterfly bushes and lilacs.
1) Both plants need plenty of sunlight in order to bloom well. They should be planted in a location where they will receive at least six hours of direct sun per day. Lilacs should be given partial shade and well-drained soil.
2) Lilacs and butterfly bushes also require regular watering, especially during times of drought. Make sure to give them a deep watering at least once a week, and more often if the weather is particularly hot. Butterfly bushes are drought-tolerant once established, but their leaves could turn yellow if they are overwatered. Lilacs need to be kept moist.
3) Fertilize both plants with a high-quality fertilizer in the springtime and again in the summer. Be sure to follow the instructions on the package, as too much fertilizer can be harmful to plants. Lilacs, on the other hand, are much more forgiving and can even tolerate poor soil conditions.
4) Butterfly bushes can sometimes get invasive – they will spread rapidly if not contained. To keep them under control, be sure to deadhead (remove) spent flowers regularly.
5) Lilacs can also be invasive, but to a lesser extent than butterfly bushes. To keep them under control, prune them back annually by about one-third of their size.
When choosing between lilacs and butterfly bushes, it’s important to consider the differences between the two plants and what will work best in your landscape. No matter which you
Lilac Vs. Butterfly Bush: Final Thoughts
When it comes to choosing between lilacs and butterfly bushes, it ultimately comes down to personal preference. Both plants are beautiful and provide fragrance and nectar for pollinators.
Gardeners in colder climates should opt for lilacs, while those in warmer areas may want to plant butterfly bushes. By following these tips, you can help your plants thrive and provide an unrivaled beauty to your landscape.