On Gardening: Fragrance, fun collide with Pugster butterfly bushes


“Does Your Nose Know What My Nose Knows?” was the name of a creative article written by an author during my time as the executive director of the American Rose Society. The reference was to the fragrance found in roses.

I would like to pass this question on to you and the butterfly bush, or buddleia. My wife, Jan, and I are blissfully on the same page when it comes to the Pugster varieties we are growing.

Last year I planted six. Three got moved to sunnier landscape locations in the fall. A year later we are experiencing all their delicious fragrance to the max and on a daily basis. They are actually the most fun and enjoyable shrubs I’ve grown in a long time.

Are these deciduous shrubs or cold hardy perennials?

To further add to the confusion, they all stayed evergreen in my zone 8 garden. But I did escape the big chill of Texas, Louisiana and Alabama.

Don’t argue about those questions — just know you will delight in the fragrance, the short compact habit, and totally relish in the opportunity to play host to bees, butterflies and hummingbirds like never before.

Even better, you will find that they are deer-resistant. I can testify to that as I got hit fairly hard a few weeks ago with deer eating azaleas, hydrangeas and even echinacea. But it left the Pugster Blue alone.

If you haven’t seen a Pugster, you will love that these are compact plants with much of the country experiencing 24-inch height and 30-inch spread. In the South I am seeing 36-inch height and 42-inch spread, which is just perfect for me. Pugster is short in stature with full-size blooms. I might even suggest that Pugster Amethyst blooms are even stocky.

Pugster Blue is the Proven Winners National Flowering Shrub of the Year. This will most likely be the most intense blue-flowered plant you have ever grown. If you look closely, you will notice each floret has yellow-orange centers. A few days ago, I had an American lady butterfly with its bright orange color land to gather a little nectar. The subsequent contrast of color was one of pure delight.

The blue is so incredible I partnered Pyromania Orange Blaze touch lilies as companions in the front yard and Suncredible bush sunflower as partners in the backyard. My Pugster Amethyst has Supertunia Vista petunias as companions in one bed and Orange You Awesome echinacea as companions in another.

These compact buddleias or butterfly bushes are really easy to grow. Give them fertile soil, good drainage with full sun and you will have garnered the Green Thumb Award. No longer will you need an acre to grow the butterfly bush or a ladder to see the butterflies. If your soil drains poorly, this is your danger point — plant on raised beds and even plant a little high with the rootball slightly higher than the soil surface.

There are 5 Pugster colors: blue, amethyst, white, periwinkle and pink, with Pugster Pinker coming next year. They are cold hardy from zones 5-9, meaning just about everyone can enjoy their beauty.

Your decision will be how to use them. Use them in the flower garden, butterfly garden and even in containers. Let your creative and artistic abilities loose. You are the Monet of your garden.

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