Q: My butterfly bushes donít come back year after year. Will mulching them with leaves over winter help? When should I cut them back?

ó Gerald Hanna

Paint Township, Wayne County

A: Butterfly bushes are marginally hardy in our area, so the last couple of cold winters could have done yours in. Itís also possible that wet soil could have been the culprit, or maybe youíre trying to plant them in a spot that has conditions the bushes just donít like.

Itís normal for the plant to die back all the way to the ground in our region, and sometimes new growth doesnít sprout till late spring or even early summer. Mulching around the base of the plant should offer some protection.

Cut the plant back in early spring, before new growth begins. You can cut it back fairly severely, to 10 or 12 inches above the ground.

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