Protecting Butterfly Bush
Our St. Mary, Ohio winter has been extremely mild this year. I do not trim my butterfly bush back until early spring. The problem is, it has produced new leaves that grew, wilted and died this winter. This has happened about 3 times. It now has another batch of new leaves on. Should do anything to help it survive this winter?
Fluctuating winter temperatures certainly provide an added challenge. As northern gardeners we expect the top of our butterfly bushes to dieback over winter. Leaving the plants stand for winter is a great way to improve winter survival. You are right to be concerned. The energy used for the plant to send out leaves several times during warm spells over winter can weaken the roots and may even lead to death of the plant. Apply a few evergreen boughs over the base of the plant when cold weather and frozen ground returns. This might reduce the risk of another early sprouting. Once spring arrives be patient. Most butterfly bushes, mine included, do not sprout until early or mid June. Recently mine did not show signs of life until July 4th. But once growth began the plant quickly reached full size and produced an abundance of blooms.
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