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January 8th, 2020

Blue butterfly bush: flight of fancy

by R.S. Walsh

The blue butterfly bush (Rotheca myricoides) is part of the Verbena family of tropical flowering plants that love the sub-tropical environment of our area. Also known as butterfly clerodendrum and clerodendrum ugandense, this plant is originally from Africa. The best growing conditions for this plant would be in partial sun/shade, frequent waterings, but not too much water, and grows best in a frost-free climate. The blue butterfly bush can grow to 8-9 inches in height, with a sprawling growth pattern, but with regular trimming, you can keep it at a lower height and still enjoy its frequent blooms.

Butterflies and bees love this plant and it adds a beautiful addition to any butterfly or flowering garden with its lovely two-toned blue to lavender flowers and bright green foliage. The type that is most commonly seen in our area tends to be more blue in color and the flowers even vaguely resemble a butterfly complete with wings and antennae. A frequent bloomer, this plant will bloom nearly year-around on our islands. Pruning is recommended to keep its bushy shape and to improve flowering.

This beautiful butterfly plant, clerodendrum ugandense, has been cultivated in botanical gardens for nearly 100 years, but only recently has been grown as a flowering plant for the home gardener. Enjoy the lovely blue blooms as they wave in the breeze, and hopefully entice butterflies to join you in your garden.


This column is a joint effort by all at In The Garden, Sanibel’s local garden center located at 3889 Sanibel Captiva Road, Sanibel Island, Florida.

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