Q.BUTTERFLY WEED: DO I CUT IT OFF JUST ABOVE THE GROUND IN THE SPRING? DIDN’T UNDERSTAND “…CUT LAST YEAR’S STEMS BACK TO THE
GROUND..” I AM NEW TO THE BUTTERFLY BUSH. WE HAVE 3 HOMES ADJACENT TO EACH OTHER AND ARE DEVELOPING HABITAT FOR BUTTERFLYS, BEES AND HUMMING BIRDS
THANKS…BOB IN WISCONSIN
First we should clarify that butterfly bush and butterfly weed are very different plants. You use both terms. Fortunately, in Wisconsin the treatment is the same for both. Butterfly weed, a native milkweed, dies back to the ground so cut down any partial stems that remain. Sometimes milkweed plants are in bad shape this time of year and if so, they can be cut all the way down now. Monarch caterpillars do not form a chrysalis on the milkweed plant so it is safe to put the stems in the compost. Butterfly bush, Buddleia, is a shrub that often dies back considerably during winter in the north. After leaf fall or in spring before buds open, cut the entire shrub down to 12-18 inches.