June 4, 2012

What Happenend?

In my garden there were four butterfly bushes (Buddleias) that thrived for several years, and I can vouch for the fact that the butterflies adored them.

They were growing in four separate gardens, and were doing so happily.

This spring all four failed to return.

They lived in completely different parts of my garden, but this winter they got together, agreed on a plan, and all four departed.

In one single episode of plant rebellion, they left, and my garden now has not a single buddleia in it.  I feel like the clueless wife who never saw the divorce coming.  What happened?

There were four plants, but only two varieties, both of them unusual.

I had two of the Buddleia weyeriana 'Honeycomb', and two of the dwarf Lo and Behold 'Blue Chip'.

The Lo and Behold 'Blue Chip' were cute.  They really were tidy little butterfly bushes, not at all arching or wild as the big ones.  Only two feet high.  The color of the bloom spikes wasn't even close to blue, it was a purply pink magenta.


I absolutely loved looking out my bedroom window and seeing the magenta mixed with a small red rose and a pop of cool Dusty Miller.


I tried one year to grow this little buddleia in a pot, but it wasn't happy there, and let me know it by stretching awkwardly to get out of the container, so I set it free and planted the whole thing in a border where it was much more amiable and made a tidier low mound.


The yellow butterfly bushes were a gift from my niece Angela, and were as big as the normal species.  Although they were named 'Honeycomb' to me they were always 'Angela' shrubs and I loved their sweet delicate yellow color.  A little sprawly, but the unusual bright blooms were rich and honey colored and irresistible to butterflies.


Buddleia is very late to leaf out each spring so I'm always a little anxious waiting for their emergence.  But it is now early June, and there is not a single leaf bud showing on any of the four butterfly bushes.

How could all four disappear after years of success and pleasure in my garden?  They came back reliably for several years.  This past winter was mild, each was in a separate garden, each had been cut back as I had done every fall, and yet each one failed to return.

Where did they go?
 

25 comments:

  1. Possibly something climate-related, like root rot? I know we had a mild winter also, and everything was very wet. Our buddleia came back, though--so really, no clue. I'll be interested to read if someone else finds the answer.

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    1. KimT, It could be root rot, I know butterfly bushed like dry conditions. But when I dug one up it did not look slimy or rotted. Hmm.

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  2. Such a disappointment when well loved plants don't return, or just droop and die for seemingly no reason. I hope you discover the culprit.

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    1. Cat, I really was disappointed about the Honeycomb ones, as they were a gift.

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  3. Oh, poor you! I love my Buddleias and if they just up and died, I would feel betrayed. I have no clue either, I hope someone can help.

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    1. Lyn, yes, I do feel betrayed, you put your finger on the odd feeling I have been having about this.

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  4. How odd. Usually I cut my Buddleias back in the spring. All of them came through winter vigorously this year and were pushing out new leaves in March. I hope you find someone who has the answer.

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    1. Sue, I had cut them back each fall in previous years, and they always came back, but maybe with no snow cover this winter it created a problem for them, exposed. That's all I can think of.

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  5. Strange, Laurrie. Have you pulled or dug out one of the plants to see if it has root damage (or total destruction) by voles?

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    1. Lee, I dug one up and the rootball looked ok, not eaten or slimy, and it was a decent size. I am really puzzled. I'll see what the others look like as I get out there to dispose of them.

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    2. Hmmm. Can't wait to see how/if this mystery is solved. Good luck. In the meantime, I hope you're planting a few more buddleias; get back on that bike.

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  6. When I had them, I always cut them back in the spring. Cutting back woody plants in the fall can cause them to freeze, especially since you didn't have any snow cover to insulate them. How frustrating! I'd plant more, too. Don't cut them back this fall and give them extra mulch in case winter isn't very snowy. :o)

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    1. Tammy, I am zeroing in on that as the cause --- cut back in fall and no snow cover. Can't think what else it could have been!

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  7. What a disappointment. Too bad they weren't playing possum.
    I think you should try them again. I know that some people use them as annuals. If ypu thpught of them that way theu woild be a bonus if they live.

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    1. Lisa, I might get new ones, as I was really pleased with those two varieties, the Honeycomb was so unusual and the Blue Chip was so cute. I could try them again!

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  8. I hope you find out the cause, Laurrie, because I'd like to know, too. Last year I planted two of the 'Lo and Behold Blue Chips,' my first ever butterfly bushes. One died halfway through the summer and I got a free replacement from the garden center where I bought them; then the other one died! I decided not to try to replace it, but the first replacement is coming back this spring. If they're not happy in my garden, I'm going to find something else that is.

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    1. Rose, I remember you posting or commenting earlier this year about your troubles with the Blue Chip buddleia, and I think I commented to you "oh, mine is just fine, it thrives". Ha! So much for that helpful comment. Gardening is humbling : )

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  9. What a shame and so frustrating not knowing just why it happened. I lost two Diablo Ninebark last year for no apparent reason so I get that feeling of shock. They were doing fine all spring and then suddenly they just rolled over and played dead. When I read up on them everyone was saying they were the easiest things to grow. Doesn't help you with your conundrum but you've certainly got my sympathies.

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    1. Marguerite, Like ninebark, buddleia is supposed to be impossible to fail with. We managed it didn't we?

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  10. What a mystery. Doesn't usually take much to care for them. Have you asked around in your area to see if anyone else lost their buddleias?

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    1. Gardener on Sherlock, I did check with my garden club friends and their butterfly bushes have leafed out. Sigh . . .

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  11. Laurrie, I got such a chuckle out of the analogy of the clueless wife who never saw the divorce coming. As a gardener it is often bewildering when something mysteriously up and goes. I think the natural tendency is to blame yourself ( not unlike the clueless wife in the aftermath of a breakup). I had a blue butterfly bush last year and after reading this post I must make a point of checking on it.

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    1. Jennifer, the sense of betrayal is real. My butterfly bushes abandoned me!

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  12. Butterfly bush in our area often fail to return. No real explanation either, except the winters. I thought my Lo and Behold would not show up after no snow cover last winter, but it did return. You never know....

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    1. Donna, usually people tell me how very easy butterfly bushes are to grow. It's good to hear from an experienced northern gardener that they can be temperamental plants sometimes.

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