deadheading butterfly bushes


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Old 09-06-10, 07:26 AM
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deadheading butterfly bushes

I asked the nursery where I bought this how to deadhead this plant and he said either above or below the first set of leaves. I don't know whether to count the leaves hugging the flower and again, forgot if he said above or below-memory problem!
I searched the web for how to deadhead this bush and saw a few different ways. One was to pinch the flower where it meets the twigs and another said but back dead flowers to the next set of flours.
Being a former legal secretary, I am detailed oriented.
I am confused as to what to do and would appreciate advice.
Thanks,
Karen
 
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Old 09-06-10, 08:13 AM
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Karen: You may want to wait on the real experts to answer, but the butterfly bush won't feel the effects of a slightly "off" deadheading. I like to deadhead ours at ground level or with a backhoe, but my wife gives me one of those looks that could kill, so I let her to it. Even after severe pruning, ours puts out even more vigorously. BUT that pruning only takes place in the dead of winter. As far as deadheading, I'd go ahead of the first live leaf at an angle.
 
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Old 09-06-10, 09:06 AM
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Hey Karen,

Deadheading is a pruning technique used to remove spent flowers and/or their seed pods. The main reason most gardeners deadhead their flowering plants is to stimulate new shoot growth (preferably causing multiple shoots) which creates more flowers. It can be done by pinching off the flower or cutting it off. If youíre in the garden and having pruners or garden scissors, I find this the fastest way to remove large numbers . . . if I donít have pruners w/ me, I just pinch off the spent flowers although most of the time I do nothing as I want to create a food source for wildlife.

Sometimes seed pods from pollinated flowers have ornamental, wildlife (source of food), or reproductive value so that becomes a consideration before removing a spent flower . . . if you like birds in your yard, they will feed from seeds and fruit. On the other hand, some seed pods are associated with plants having aggressive or invasive tendencies, and itís usually good idea to remove them before being widely dispersed. Many ornamental grasses, annuals, and perennials need seeds to replenish as the mother plant will eventually die off if having no other way to reproduce, and have no other reproduction mode such as root shoots.

Deadheading is a loosely used term, and some people are really pruning back their plant to achieve a shorter height or shaping it if cutting down well below the spent flower. The terminology is not important but you can save yourself work by not removing the flower, and then going back to remove stems to shorten the plantís height.

The following link may be helpful . . . YouTube - Deadheading Part II From www.GrowingWisdom.com.

Rest assured this is simple stuff, and hopefully youíll find it far more relaxing and therapeutic than doing detailed legal work.

Itís usually not the best idea to have multiple gardeners tending to the same plants unless there is exceptionally good communications . . . usually easier to break-up the workload and responsibilities . . . sometimes team work is helpful, and sometimes itís not.
 
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Old 09-09-10, 07:11 AM
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Not to hijack the thread but...

I've read recently that you can start butterfly bushes from cuttings taken in late Summer (not Spring). However, as hot and dry as its been in the Northeast I've been afraid to try.
I've tried several times with Spring cuttings thinking that was the best time, but to no success.
Does anyone know the best method for this?

I started out with a Red-White-Blue shrub mix 4 years ago, and I'm down to just the Blue one - dry summer got the Red one and last years severe winter got the White one. But the Blue one is healthy and the butterflies love it.

Thanks,
greynold99
 
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Old 09-09-10, 11:26 AM
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Hello greynold99,

Originally Posted by greynold99 View Post
. . . I've tried several times with Spring cuttings thinking that was the best time, but to no success.
Does anyone know the best method for this?
I donít think your unsuccessful attempt is timing related but more likely caused by a technical step.

I find doing cuttings usually is the easiest propagation method for folks starting out. Sometimes seed propagation is easy for a particular species, but for many species, itís much trickier involving specific knowledge as to how to prepare the seed (mechanical or acid scarifying, fire (e.g., many native pines), subjecting to cool temps such as a fridge, etc.) as well as more exact timing of when to plant the seed.

Remember, by doing cuttings, the baby plants will have the precise DNA of the mother plant from which theyíre taken. If you have multiple plants, choose the one(s) most aesthetically pleasing to you when taking your cuttings.

Start off by doing small batches until getting the techniques down. I apologize if this seems difficult but itís not. Itís one of those things where details matter.

Some tips follow the links below.

Propagating Butterfly Bush: How To Grow Butterfly Bushes From A Seed Or Cutting
Taking the Cuttings:
1.) Use soft wood cuttings (i.e., stem not yet brown).
2.) Do 6Ē cuttings rather than 3Ē. If the last inch or two of stem growth is very small (i.e., weak), take 8Ē-9Ē cutting from plant, and then remove 1Ē-2Ē from top so that itís less likely to droop over (suggest experimenting where no tip is removed and others w/ it removed). Make your stem cuts just below the nearest node with an aim for a 6Ē finished cutting. Since all cuttings will initially be stressed and may wilt, you donít want the tops of the cutting falling over into the dirt when watering.
3.) Very important: Take something like a rag or strong paper towels, and wet these down. Youíll improve your success significantly, if your cuttings are kept fresh (subjecting them to warm or hot air will cause them to wilt quickly).
Sticking the Cuttings:
4.) You should already have prepared your liner tray(s) before taking the cuttings (or whatever youíll be using to hold the dirt such as small cups {allow for drainage}). Moisten the soil so that it's damp (not real critical as they will be draining water as you complete other steps).
5.) Use liquid DipíN Grow root hormone. Iíve tried several different brands, and both liquids and powders. This particular one works noticeably better for me than others, and very easy to use. Use 1 part Dip Ní Grow :10 parts water mix even though instructions suggest otherwise. Have this ready to go.
6.) Unwrap the cuttings kept moist; remove all leaves at bottom so that about 2Ē-2-1/2Ē of clear stem exists. Gently use sharp edge of pruners or knife, and very lightly rough-up 1Ē-1-1/2Ē at bottom of stem (think of it like peeling a potato but removing an even thinner layer). This will promote easier and faster root growth, and this is the part youíre going to dip into the pre-mixed DipíN Grow solution. Only dip for a good 5 seconds . . . donít over do it.
7.) Now stick the cutting into the center of your liner container.
8.) Other than very lightly misting the cuttings to help cool them off, youíre done.
Note: This article does not mention air layering plants as another propagation technique. Itís often used on hard to propagate plants by seed or cutting, or used to create a larger plant faster. You might search that out.
Dip'N Grow Buy the smallest sized bottle as it goes a long ways. After use, stick in fridge until needed again. Higher temps such as in a garage or shed will gradually reduce the effectiveness, and at some point, have to be thrown away.

http://www.dipngrow.com/images/FAQ.pdf

The first several days are the most critical. These new plants should mainly be kept shaded although a bit of filtered sunlight during part of the day is helpful. Keep the soil moist but donít over water Ė a fast draining soil is my preference for start-up plants. Most important is lightly misting these young plants during the hottest parts of the day (use cool water as sometimes water initially coming from hose can be very hot). Since they donít yet have any roots, theyíre solely relying on absorption of moisture through their leaves. If you work and unable to keep them cool during the day, you might bring them inside if dealing w/ a small number. The plant losses are mainly associated w/ the growing conditions after sticking, and not associated with the steps for taking the cuttings and dipping them. Commercial liner growers who specialize in growing starter plants for the commercial trade have extremely tight environmental conditions in their greenhouses which can rarely be replicated by the DYI gardener. However, Iíve grown them in greenhouses and also on a concrete slab under large oak trees. Expect some wilting, and expect some possible leaf loss. Expect some losses, and when baby plants die, remove them from the group as sometimes they are killed by disease and you donít want that spreading to other healthy plants. Theyíre kind of like an infant child where first few days are more critical . . . once they start to root, youíll be decelerating your time to an occasional watering (frequency will be driven by water holding capacity of the soil you used) . . . after fully rooted, start gradually exposing them to increasing amounts of direct sunlight in order to acclimate them . . . youíll probably want to do one bump-up to say a 1-gal. pot although you can plant them in ground but flag them so theyíre not stepped on or inadvertently sprayed w/ herbicide. The first few times may seem hard but once youíve done this for awhile youíll keep getting better at it as is the case for most things. The first time you might try your butterfly bush and one or two other plants (donít get to crazy). Later move to other plants.

Starting off with a simple to propagate plant is wise. However, once you realize you can do this, it opens up a much broader array of plants to put on your property. Many plants are not available commercially as they are either hard to propagate for mass production (loss ratios to high), grow to slowly to make it profitable (most often the reason), or have some other characteristic that cause mass production growers to avoid them. If able to propagate and can find a mother plant not produced commercially, you can take cuttings or seeds and get them going on your property creating a unique landscape. For example, there are at least 3,000 native plants species to Florida, and some claim 4,000+. In S. FL, about 25 are repetitiously installed on properties, and another 25 or so can be bought from growers specializing in rarer or unusual natives. An avid gardener (environmental lawyer by day) wrote a great gardening book, and revealed his secrets of how to propagate 359 FL native species opening up many possibilities to the home gardener.

Good luck, have fun.
 
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Old 09-09-10, 01:01 PM
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Reply to Rob R.

Rob R.
Wow - what a wealth of information in your message! I'm going to print your reply and try this as soon as possible. It's already gotten 20 degrees cooler and it's starting to look like we might get some rain this week.

Are you a botanist or professional agriculturist/landscaper by any chance?
I like these plants particularly and have been filling my 3 acres with Redbud, Red Twig Dogwood, hybrid Poplar (particularly wet areas), Chinese Chestnut and Hardy Northern Pecan, Blue Spruce and Osage Orange (along property line) trees. The Chestnut, Dogwood and Osage plants have been particularly easy to propagate but I just couldn't get the hang of the Butterfly Bush. Hope to have a lot more now.
Again many thanks for taking the time to respond.
Gary
 
 

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