3 Tips to Deadhead a Butterfly Bush

Although it’s not necessary to deadhead Proven Winners ColorChoice butterfly bushes, you can do it to give them a tidier appearance. For older varieties of butterfly bush, it can be helpful to deadhead them to keep them from dropping viable seeds and to help quicken or promote rebloom.

Why isn’t deadheading necessary? As you can see in this photo, there are spent flowers, mature flowers, and buds all growing next to each other. Proven Winners ColorChoice butterfly bushes keep producing flower buds even when they’re in full bloom.

A group of spent flowers, new flowers, and buds on a reblooming Pugster butterfly bush.

We’ll show you how to deadhead a butterfly bush in this quick three-step process. Once you develop a good rhythm, you’ll find that the task goes quickly and the end results are quite satisfying.

Step One

Follow the stem of the spent flower down to a set of leaves. If you want the cut to blend in seamlessly, the second set is usually a good bet.

Step Two

Snip 1/4 to 1/8 of an inch above that set of leaves. Make a clean cut and avoid snipping any tender leaves. 

Step Three

Clear away the flowers that have turned completely brown. 


A Pugster butterfly bush that has spent flowers, mature flowers, and buds.


A pruned butterfly bush looks tidy and full of flowers and buds.

With a few (or a few hundred, depending on how many flowers you have) quick snips your butterfly bushes will look tidy and ready to display a plentiful rebloom.


Have questions about your butterfly bush? Ask in the comments below.

Comments (5)

  1. Terri Montgomery

    My PW butterfly bush does not have many leaves on it and very few flowers. Last year it was beautiful! Does it need fertilizer! Please help! Thank you!

  2. Barbara Pelzner

    If you want to keep the bush smaller than it has become, could you follow the same practice lower on the branch with out risking blooms for the following year? or killing the bush?

    • Kristina Howley

      It flowers on new wood, so no pruning should affect the next year. It’s hard to keep a large butterfly bush much, much smaller than it would prefer to be, so it might be best to transplant it to a place it can grow a bit bigger.

  3. Lois Miller

    My newly planted butterfly bushes have not produced additional blooms. Should I dead head the old blooms to promote additional blooms?

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Picture of Kristina Howley

Kristina Howley

I am all in when it comes to gardening. Almost every part of the experience delights me – new leaves emerging in spring, pollinators buzzing in summer, birds devouring berries in fall, and the somber beauty of seed heads in winter. Thanks to a background in horticulture and gardening my own clay-filled, flowery USDA zone 5b plot, I’ve learned plenty of practical things as well. I like sharing these joys and lessons with my fellow gardeners and soon-to-be gardeners any way I can.


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