SUBSTITUTE SUMMER SWEET FOR THE INVASIVE BUTTERFLY BUSH

SUBSTITUTE SUMMER SWEET FOR THE INVASIVE BUTTERFLY BUSH

In a recent post I explained why the butterfly bush should not be planted in our gardens. Not only is it an invasive plant, but while it does attract butterflies and moths, it does not provide them with food or a place to lay their eggs. But there is an excellent replacement which is native to US and Canada. I found an article by Melody Rose on Dave’s Garden website which has all the details.

As spring nears, gardeners thoughts turn to new plants for their gardens. Why not choose natives that are wildlife-friendly instead of exotic interlopers?
Gardening is all about choices and many gardeners are stepping up to the environmental plate and choosing natives over exotics. If a flowering shrub is needed to soften the corner of a wall or building, why not select something that isn’t going to harm the ecosystem?
Many of us love butterfly bushes. (Buddleja davidii) Butterflies do too, but did you know that this plant is fast becoming an invasive species in many areas? It is even considered a world-wide pest in places such as Great Britain. I confess, I had a collection of them until the winter of 2014 when they all perished due to the extreme conditions. I live well within the optimal growing zone for these shrubs and even had one that was over 10 years old. I never considered that an unusual cold snap would exterminate them. At first, I was eager to replace them with more butterfly bushes, as there are dozens of commercially available cultivars. However, the more I researched the plant, the more I decided that they weren’t a responsible choice and started looking for alternatives.
summersweetSummer Sweet (Clethra alnifolia) is an excellent replacement. This deciduous shrub is native to the U.S. and Canada, with a list of positive traits that should make any gardener smile. The long racemes with a choice of pink or white flowers bloom in mid to late summer and attracts butterflies and moths in great numbers, just like the butterfly bush. However, this plant also attracts native bees and they use it for a nectar source as well. There is an added element of an intoxicating scent that perfumes the garden. Birds and other wildlife consume the berries as a winter food source too. It has very few insect or disease problems as well. Win, win, win.

Read more at Dave’s Garden
Image source: Wendy Cutler

I am a keen gardener and so created Garden Pics and Tips for people who love gardens and enjoy great pictures of plants and gardens. Also covered are practical tips on all aspects of gardening.

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