Pruning butterfly bushes: instructions in 6 steps

The summer or. Butterfly bush, botanically Buddleja davidii, is extremely popular in this country because it produces beautiful panicle flowers in summer and, as the name suggests, is a magnet for butterflies. However, to ensure that this is the case from the beginning and remains so in later years, it needs regular pruning. This is done in late winter, as there is a ban on cutting from March to September due to the bird breeding season. Here you can learn how to properly prune the butterfly bush.

Cutting butterfly bush

Before you pick up the scissors and get started, here are a few things to keep in mind about pruning to avoid damaging your summer lilacs.

Pruning tools

Since branches and twigs of varying thickness must be cut when pruning the butterfly bush, you should also have the appropriate cutting tools available.

  • for shoots up to 2 centimeters thick, use hand shears (secateurs, bypass shears)
  • Branches with a thickness between 2 and 4 centimeters a pruning shears
  • For shoots thicker than 4 inches, use a pruning saw or folding saw (for thinning)

Always make sure that the cutting tool is sharp and clean. This not only makes the job easier, but also reduces the risk that you will transmit diseases with tools.

Pruning technique

When doing the actual pruning, be careful not to bruise the shoot. If this does occur, reset the cut below the bruise. Under no circumstances should you continue to cut at the bruised point, as this is an ideal gateway for pests and diseases to enter the plant.

If the previous year's faded shoots are cut off in the spring, you should

  • Make the cut just above an outward-facing bud
  • Cut slightly away from the bud (cut at a slight angle)

To remove ground shoots, proceed as follows:

  • Apply pruning shears at the base
  • Cut off ground shoots at a slight angle

Note: This slightly angled pruning allows watering and/or rainwater to drain away better. This serves as protection against fungal infections and other diseases.

Pruning time

In addition to the right time in the calendar, there are also some requirements for the right day for pruning summer lilacs. It is best to go to work on a frost-free and overcast day. sunny and rainy days are not suitable for pruning. Since the summer lilac should be pruned very early in the year, the ideal conditions should exist for several days, so that the butterfly bush can recover from pruning.

Prune butterfly bush: Instructions

To ensure that the butterfly bush thrives vigorously and healthily, perform the following types of pruning on a regular basis:

  • Education pruning for young plants
  • Maintenance pruning for older plants
  • Pruning of faded flowers
  • Thinning pruning
  • Rejuvenation pruning
  • Education pruning

Education pruning

Educational pruning is done in the first five years of the butterfly weed's life. The aim of this annual pruning is the formation of a stable framework of older shoots. Because this forms the basis for the budding of the flowering branches.
In the first three years of standing, proceed as follows:

  • leave only the strongest 3 to 5 ground shoots
  • Forming the scaffold
  • Shorten scaffold shoots to 30 centimeters
  • Cut off stunted, dead and excess shoots close to the ground
  • Time: Late winter (mid/late February)

In 4. and 5. In the first year, proceed as follows:

  • young ground shoots (from the 4. and 5. year) shorten to 30 centimeters
  • Extend scaffold shoots from the first three standing years by 15 to 20 centimeters per year
  • Cut back side shoots on the scaffold to short cones with two or four buds
  • Time: Late winter (mid/end of February)

Note: "Prune to the tang" means that branches or shoots are not pruned to the base, but left about 10 centimeters.

Maintenance pruning

With the maintenance pruning you ensure a long life of your summer lily. This pruning method is used from 6. carried out in the first year of growth. This involves cutting the butterfly bush back by half to two-thirds annually in late winter. Its height after pruning should be about one meter.

With maintenance pruning you can influence the abundance of flowers as well as growth height and width. The stronger you cut back, the stronger the growth and flowering will be. You can get a harmonious growth habit with a homogeneous crown with moderate pruning (topiary); cut deeper and you'll get large, voluminous flower panicles. However, the abundance of flowers is at the expense of the crown, i.e. a homogeneous appearance. Therefore, before pruning, you should consider what goal you are pursuing.

The following instructions are for the purpose of increased flower formation:

  • ground shoots of the first three years of standing close to the ground to 10 centimeters long cones
  • Cut off (over-aged, lack of frost resistance)
  • Shorten side shoots to cones with 2 to 4 buds
  • cut back younger ground shoots to 30 centimeters
  • always cut the three oldest scaffold shoots in the following years
  • Time: late winter (mid/end of February)

If the goal is a homogeneous crown, then proceed as follows for topiary:

  • Vary the cutting height of the scaffold shoots
  • Cut back branches favorable for crown formation only by one third
  • Pruning of faded flowers

During the flowering period, you should cut off faded or. cut off withered flower panicles continuously, as this form of pruning does not fall under the pruning ban. Pruning is done because the withered flowers not only deprive the underlying buds of sunlight, but you also prevent the butterfly bush from putting most of its energy into seed production. To allow the new buds to develop well, cut off the shoot tip to the next bud.

Tip: In the course of removing withered flowers, you can also cut off overhanging branches up to a side branching.

Thinning pruning

The aim of thinning pruning is to prevent the butterfly bush from becoming bare. Causes of thinning may include the following pruning mistakes:

  • Pruning several times during the season
  • Formation of branch whorls

If the butterfly bush is pruned several times during the season, the base of the bush may become bare, and at the same time there will be more shoots at the tips of the shoots. If the butterfly bush has never been thinned out, it will form branch whorls. These are thick branches that are intertwined and can hinder each other's growth. In addition, you will only see bare, i.e. leafless, branches inside the butterfly bush.

Another possible cause of callosity is when Buddleja davidii is subjected to vigorous pruning each year. The shrub itself does not suffer from thinning. However, the leafless interior of the bush massively affects its appearance. Therefore, you should regularly thin out the summer lilac. Follow these instructions:

  • Cut off outdated and strongly branched branches
  • Cut branches at the base deep into the branch ring
  • In addition, shorten thin base shoots
  • Time: early spring

Rejuvenation pruning

A rejuvenation pruning will make a puny butterfly bush fit again, because it makes room for a new growth of the shrub. Proceed according to the following instructions:

  • remove dead shoots close to the ground
  • old or. shorten aging scaffolding branches to cones with at least one pair of buds
  • Cut back vigorous young shoots to 30 centimeters (replacing scaffold shoots that no longer sprout)
  • Cut in side shoots of young shoots also 2 buds
  • Time: late winter (late January to late February)

In the following years, cut the old butterfly bush like a summer lilac in the first years of standing. Here's how you can slowly rebuild it.

Remove frost damage

If you notice significant frost damage to the summer lilac after a severe winter, then you can disregard the general pruning rules. Proceed as follows:

  • Remove dead wood completely
  • Cut off all frostbitten shoots down to the healthy wood

If you are unsure whether the wood is healthy or frost-damaged, then you can check this with the sog. Check vitality test. To do this, scrape off a small piece of bark. If the tissue underneath is bright and green, then the drive is healthy. If, on the other hand, it is brown, then it is dead wood.

Disease pruning

A disease pruning is done regardless of the season, because after all, you don't want the disease to spread. To avoid this, generously cut off the diseased or infested parts of the plant. It is important to disinfect the cutting tools before and after pruning, because some pathogens remain on scissors, knives and saws for weeks.

Tip: If the infestation is already far ahead, you should also disinfect the cutting tools in between. This is how you reduce the risk of causing the spread of disease when pruning.

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