With repeated failures, I’ve given up trying to grow butterfly bushes (Buddleia, below), despite concern at one time that these might be overly vigorous. There is also a problem with invasiveness of seedlings that I’ve witnessed, though not in this garden where a once very healthy shrub perished quickly when the surrounding soil turned damp from a rejuvenated natural spring after a decade when it was mostly dry
Subsequent attempts to grow other butterfly bushes failed (in drier ground), I suspect due to winter cold and dampness with new introductions that flowered beautifully but were even less tolerant, and now I must look elsewhere for butterfly friendly shrubs. Certainly, there is no shortage of shrubs and perennials already in the garden that attract the abundant local population of Tiger swallowtails. If there were none other than the several variations of Joe Pye weed (Eutrochium purpureum, below), no more would be required, but of course swallowtails do not seem particularly discriminating.
I find it interesting that swallowtails mostly avoid the long flowering mountain mint (Pycnanthemum muticum, below) that has spread over a significant area in this same damp ground once occupied by the butterfly bush. Every bee and wasp from a three county area can be found on this patch on a sunny August afternoon, and perhaps swallowtails prefer less competition, though plenty of small moths can be seen feasting on the disk like flowers of the mountain mint.
With the quantity of stinging beasts foraging about, a reasonable person would steer clear of the mountain mint, but as I stick my nose too close into their business, bees and wasps are quite occupied by more critical matters. Lacking better judgment, it is fortunate that I am rarely stung.
I’ve read of gardeners who don’t give up on a plant until they’ve killed it three times, and sometimes that applies to me, though here the formula is less precise. More than three butterfly bushes have been planted and lost, all with the expectation that this one will make it where others failed. But eventually, reality sinks in that whatever is needed to assure success, I can’t or won’t provide it. There are sunny areas on higher, drier ground in the garden, but these are occupied by more cherished shrubs.
And so, no more. In this always damp soil I’ve planted more tolerant summetsweet (Clethra) and sweetshrub (Calycanthus), neither of which is of much interest to butterflies, but both are lovely, and they’ll live.