7 Easy Steps for How to Prune a Butterfly Bush

5 Min Read

Prune Butterfly Bush keeps this quickly spreading shrub neat and compact and enhances flowering. In actuality, you don’t need to trim your butterfly bush at all.

But in just one growing season, it may reach heights of six to eight feet, and if you don’t try to keep growth under control, you’ll wind up with a shrub that looks slim with all the blooms at the top. Butterfly bushes are among the most forgiving ornamental shrubs, and they look better after pruning.

Here’s everything you need to know about pruning your butterfly bush to maintain its health and aesthetic appeal.

Prepare a plan and gather your tools

It’s a good idea to think out your pruning strategy before you get started. Will you chop the shrub down to the ground, or will you just chop off the tops of the branches with a little pruning?

Regardless of the pruning you select, you should begin with some spotless instruments. The most appropriate tools for the task are bypass pruners and loppers.

To keep your hands safe and simplify clean-up, you might also want gloves and a bucket or wheelbarrow. Now let’s discuss the kinds of pruners you might want to use:

Best for Small Branches: Bypass Pruners

When it comes to pruning or deadheading herbaceous perennials and smaller-diameter branches, this pruner is my preferred choice. Due to their tiny size, bypass pruners are easy to hold in your hand. Pruners that are kept in good condition will be cut neatly and efficiently for you.

Best for Large Branches: Loppers

Larger jobs, or those that may be overhead and just out of reach, are excellent candidates for lopper use. To trim away thicker branches, these big instruments move like scissor blades. For branches with a greater diameter, loppers work best.

Before using any tool, make sure it is clean and sanitized. By doing this, you can stop any infections that your snips may have come into contact with from spreading when you’re not using them.

Get Your Timing Right

Pruning flowering bushes in the autumn is a typical practice. On the other hand, after you notice some new growth in your plant, late winter or early spring is the ideal time to prune your butterfly bush.

Your older stems may split when water freezes and thaws because of the water that collects in their hollow centers. Pruning should not be done too early in the spring or too late in the autumn, for similar reasons. Hold off until you notice fresh growth coming from your shrub.

Look for New Growth

Butterfly bushes produce new wood when they blossom. New wood is the fresh growth from that specific growing season. Search the area close to the plant’s base for fresh growth. You should recognize what you see. Fresh green leaves, stems, and buds should be observed.

It is important to keep in mind that some plants release their leaves later in the spring Don’t panic if the rest of your shrubs and perennials appear to be flourishing while your butterfly bush appears to be hibernating.

You can start pruning as soon as you notice a sizable number of healthy leaves. If you prune your shrubs too soon, this perennial will not have any flowers in the summer.

Remove Dead Stems

Examine your plant and find any dead or old stems. For a variety of reasons, your butterfly bushes may have dead or damaged stems. It’s possible that they broke during a storm or are just old. These branches should be chopped back to the ground or broken off at the break.

Once your plant begins to develop new growth in the spring, you should have little trouble finding these stems. Search for stems that don’t seem to have any buds or leaves attached to them. If the plant has been dead for some time, deadwood occasionally wiggles out of the base.

Begin Your Pruning

Now that your dead stems are out of the way, you can start working. Just above the point where the leaves start to appear, make a neat, angled incision. Usually, this is situated about a foot above the floor.

It might not be necessary to prune too much, depending on the variety. A lot of dwarf types don’t need to be pruned at all. Usually, dwarf types can be pruned by cutting off the longer stems with small bypass pruners.

To improve overall shape, you might only want to chop back a few lateral branches if you aren’t doing a full pruning Follow the lateral branch back to the main branch, which is its leader, and cut it off. This is where new leaves should grow, and soon your shrub will once again resemble a gorgeous vase.

Check Your Work

After you’ve completed trimming and pulling out dead stems, stroll around your plant to assess your progress. Two goals are achieved by pruning:

  1. To increase the plant’s vigour and promote new growth.
  2. To enhance the overall form and appearance.

Verify that everything is evenly spaced and that there are no lengthy, straggling stems. Whenever possible, it is safer to make two cuts rather than one large one.

Fortunately, your shrub will not be harmed if you trim it too close to the new growth. Just maybe, if you had made your cuts above the fresh leaves, it wouldn’t fill out quite as neatly. This is a result of the fact that removing any new leaves will eliminate a significant portion of fresh growth.

Don’t Forget to Deadhead

If you want your butterfly bushes to continue blooming throughout the season, remember to deadhead the spent blooms.

The flowers can become invasive due to their high seed production. It is crucial to know if this flowering shrub is invasive in your area. If so, a large number of seedless cultivars are available.

It’s simple to remove deadheads from butterfly bushes: Just cut the blossom as close to the subsequent cluster of flowers as possible. This will leave your shrub with a little, easily healed wound that won’t show through.


It’s certainly worth the work to prune your butterfly bushes. If you neglect to prune your shrubs, you’ll be left with a chaotic plant that only flowers on the tallest branches, leaving an abundance of eye-catching foliage.

Even if the foliage is lovely, the long panicle flowers that cover well-pruned shrubs are more exquisite. Make pruning your butterfly bushes an annual task if you haven’t been doing so before. You’ll be glad you did.


Does deadheading butterfly bushes make sense?

Deadheading butterfly bushes are not required, although taking off wasted blooms might promote additional blooming later in the season. Deadheading also lessens unintentional dissemination in cultivars that reseed.

How much of the butterfly bush should be pruned back?

The greatest flowers and new growth are encouraged when butterfly bushes are trimmed back to about a foot in height.

Although you run the danger of losing the plant due to a late frost or freeze that kills new growth, you can trim the shrub back to ground level. Depending on the temperature where you live, hard trimming is done in late February or early March.



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