Taming a wild beauty - Buddejas

BUDDLEJAS are much loved by gardeners for their elegant, fragrant blooms.

They are very attractive to butterflies, hence the common name Butterfly Bush. Bees and many other small insects also love them. The masses of tiny flowers form in clusters at the ends of softly arching branches.

As a garden plant, though, buddlejas have a bit of a reputation for being invasive.

They are often classed as a weed, because many varieties are very easy to grow, and self-seed readily and prolifically. But the "Buzz" series of buddleja is almost 100% sterile, so now we can enjoy this gorgeous shrub without worrying about it getting out of hand.

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Buzz buddlejas are the result of a long, intensive breeding program. The goal was to produce a form of buddleja that was compact, free-flowering with good flower colour, and sterile. More than 800 hybridisations were made and 25,000 plants grown out in fields from which the final plants were selected. In all, it took 10 years to create the first marketable clones of buddleja Buzz. After all this hard work, it's no wonder the resulting plants are so good.

Buzz was launched in the UK in 2009, and was awarded a silver medal for best new plant at the Plantarium Show in the UK in 2010. It was released in Australia in spring 2012, and has been very successful in gardens here. The soft grey-green foliage is the perfect backdrop for the four flower colours - ivory, sky blue, velvet and purple.

These dwarf buddlejas will grow about 1m x 1m, and flower almost year-round. The colours work beautifully together in a mass planting, as a border or in a mixed bed.

The compact form makes the plants not only more garden-friendly but also perfect for pots.

They require very little maintenance, just a prune in early spring to prevent them from becoming leggy and to retain a neat shape. At this time, remove any dead, damaged, diseased or weak stems. Buddlejas flower on new growth, so pruning will encourage new stems which will produce more blooms in the same year. Removing spent flowers during the almost non-stop flowering period will keep the plant tidy and encourage still more new growth, which will produce even more flowers.

Grow your buddlejas in a sunny to partly shaded position. They are not fussy about soil type, but will appreciate the addition of organic material at planting time, a regular organic fertiliser and a layer of mulch. If you are planting them in pots, use a premium potting mix and make sure you water them regularly and keep them well fed.

Got a gardening question? Email maree@edenatbyron.com.au.

Plus, don't forget to enter our competition for one lucky reader to win $1000 in gardening vouchers and a day with gardening guru and TV presenter Costa Georgiadis.

The bearded backyard buff will first help you plan your garden revamp and, by day's end, will make sure you've achieved it.

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