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What is Buddleia?

Buddleia, also known as butterfly bush or buddleja davidii, is a decorative, floral bush that is popular in many gardens around the UK.

Keen gardeners have readily introduced buddleia into their gardens and outdoor spaces to attract wildlife, such as butterflies. Despite its bright flowers offering contrasting colours to green space, however, the plant can do more damage than good. Unfortunately, this has caused many gardeners to fall into its trap.

Is Buddleia Invasive?

Yes, buddleia is invasive. As an invasive species, buddleia could be causing harm to Britain’s ecosystem and infrastructure. Buddleia has even been known to wreak havoc around railway lines by growing in walls, interfering with power lines, and obscuring train signals. Sadly, the plant has also been known to kill off other plants used for butterfly habitats.

How is Buddleia Invasive?

Despite being a butterfly-friendly plant, buddleia is incredibly invasive and can grow in nuisance areas. Similar to Japanese knotweed, it can cause significant damage and obstruction if left untreated. Rather than trying to manually remove it yourself, it is more efficient to employ specialists to remove and dispose of it for you.

It Has Vast Seed Banks

A buddleia can release an incalculable number of seeds each time it dies back. Plants that reach over 5m in height could have around 20 panicles, if not more, with each holding hundreds of seeds. As an easy plant to grow, it’s able to thrive in many places.

It Can Spread Quickly

Gusty conditions in winter can easily spread buddleia around the garden or into neighbouring properties. Additionally, animals such as dogs and cats can carry the seeds in their fur, distributing them further afield. If the conditions are right, it can even grow around infrastructure.

It Can Grow in Odd Places

Without proper management, buddleia can invade properties, damage buildings and interfere with electrical lines. It has been known to wreak havoc on railway lines and can cause issues on industrial sites, especially as it thrives on chalky grasslands.

Identifying Buddleia

As a semi-evergreen plant, buddleia only loses its foliage for a short amount of time every year. Normally, it dies back around the winter months, which is the time its seeds are released, remaining dormant throughout spring. As summer and autumn hit, its flowers and leaves burst back into life, just in time for the butterfly season.


The flowers on a buddleia are often eye-catching, with bright pinks and purples emerging in the summer months. The flower formation grows in a horn shape, also known as panicles, making it the perfect spot for butterflies to feed from as it can reach up to 10 inches in length. You’ll also notice its scent as you pass it.


A buddleia’s leaves tend to be darker green, with a serrated edge that’s similar to the common stinging nettle. You’ll also find their leaves are quite narrow, long and thick, and can look like mint.


Despite the weight of the panicles, the stems are incredibly strong. In fact, it’s the only part of the plant that survives the winter months. The stems are wood-like in appearance with minute hairs running up them.


During the winter months, the flowers die back and turn brown. It’s during this time they release their seeds, which can spread during windy spells or through animal movement in the garden. Each panicle can produce hundreds of seeds. The seeds are incredibly small, reaching a maximum of a few millimetres in length.

There are many ways to identify buddleia, but it can easily be mistaken for other plants. If you’re unsure, you can get a specialist to review and identify it through a survey.

How Can Buddleia Be Removed & Controlled?

If you’re concerned about the spread of buddleia, it’s best to get it removed and treated by a professional. Depending on the level of infestation, specialists might advise more excavation methods to control the plant.  

Here are some ways buddleia can be removed and controlled:

  • Excavation and burial
  • Sifting and screening
  • Watering plants with herbicide treatment
  • Stem injection
  • Root barriers
  • Controlled burning

Buddleia can be treated with both stem injection and excavation. A herbicide treatment can either be sprayed or injected into the trunk. This method is most effective on young plants. Treatment should be carried out at the right time of the year and following a strict methodology and when carried out professionally the plant. If the plant is lodged in a wall, it will need to be removed carefully and repaired.  Eradication via excavating the plant from the above and below ground is the most effective method of removal. It is extremely important that this is done by highly trained professionals so the whole plant is removed successfully, otherwise there may be growth next season, or worse, it could spread onto neighbouring land.  

Can You Remove Buddleia Yourself?

Whilst some DIY projects can be successful, you’re more likely to cause the plant to spread elsewhere or onto neighbouring properties when you remove or prune it. It is likely to be more effective to have specialists remove your buddleia.

It’s possible to prune the plant back to avoid it growing out of control, but this needs to be done in the winter months. You’ll also need to prune the bush down to the base of the plant to control it. This should keep the buddleia at a reasonable height by summer.

Once the flowers die back, that’s the point when the seeds start to drop. You’ll need to air caution here, especially as each panicle contains hundreds of seeds. A strong gust of wind can easily carry them into neighbouring properties or the countryside. As buddleia can root easily, you may end up causing more damage. That’s why employing specialists will help you mitigate the risks.

Buddleia Removal Solutions

Excavation Of Soil

Excavation & Burial

If an excavation is required to remove your buddleia, there are a few methods we can try. These include dig and dump, dig and sift, and more.

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Sifting & Screening

As buddleia has strong roots, we’ll shift through the soil to ensure we’ve captured the entire plant, removing all traces.

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Watering Plants

Herbicide Treatment

Herbicide treatments are one of the best ways to control and eradicate buddleia, with annual treatments designed to stilt future growth.

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Steam Injection

Stem Injection

A simple, concentrated dose into the stem can help control the buddleia, allowing it to die off.

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Lots Of Soil

Root Barriers

Root barriers are ideal for stopping the spread of roots, meaning plants can be contained in one area.

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Burning Knotweed

Controlled Burning

Incinerating the buddleia, as well as any seeds, stops the plant from spreading further.

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How Buddleia Removal Specialists Can Help

Without proper care or treatment, buddleia can quickly become a nuisance, growing up buildings, through cracks and causing significant damage. You don’t want to get to this point, especially as repairs can be costly. That’s where invasive weed removal specialists come in.

• We Can Identify Problem Plants

If you’re unsure about the plant’s species, you can ask specialists to identify it for you, so you can rest assured you’ve correctly identified invasive species on your land.  

We Can Survey the Area

To best understand the problem, we can survey your land which allows us to approach the task correctly. From this point, we might establish any environmental risks and impacts from treatment, providing you with the right solution to tackle your buddleia problem.

• We Offer a Management Plan

As buddleia is invasive, we will put together a plan to manage the issue. This will include any treatments, as well as follow-up treatments or check-ins for your land. It will also break down the removal costs for you.

• We Issue You with a Guarantee

Once we’ve agreed on a plan and it’s been paid for, your treatment is guaranteed. As we’re PCA-approved, our work fulfils the requirements for mortgage lenders when tackling invasive species. Each guarantee could last up to 10 years, depending on the project.

• We Always Look After You

As our customer, you’ll receive aftercare, so you never have to deal with a returning infestation alone.

Buddleia FAQs  

Does Buddleia Cause Damage?

Buddleia is known to cause damage to buildings and infrastructure, leading to problematic structural damage. Left untamed, buddleia has been known to even obscure important rail signals and interfere with overhead electric cables.

Who Introduced Buddleia to the UK?

As a popular garden plant, buddleia was introduced to the UK in the 1890s from China. Its stunning flowers and contrasting colours are a favourite amongst gardeners who want to attract more wildlife to their gardens. In particular, it’s a real hit with butterflies. Unfortunately, whilst it’s a great feeding place for insects, it can kill off many other butterfly habitats and plants in the process.

What Butterfly-Friendly Plants Can You Have in Your Garden Other Than Buddleia?

Buddleia, also known as butterfly bush, offers butterflies a source of nectar. Moths and other insects are drawn to the plant as well. As its flowers bloom between June and October, it provides a good source of food during the butterfly season.

Unfortunately, buddleia is known to kill off other butterfly habitats, so introducing some of these into your garden instead could enable butterflies to thrive. Plants include:

  • Lavender
  • Aster
  • Marigolds
  • Sunflower
  • Sedum
  • Fennel

Why is Buddleia Controversial?

Despite its beautiful flowers and bright colours, it is classed as an invasive plant in the UK, as well as the US and New Zealand. Unfortunately, it’s known to damage buildings, obscure vital traffic equipment and affect overhead cables. It’s also easily spread and difficult to control.

Why Choose Japanese Knotweed Specialists?

We are accredited by the Property Care Association and the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors, which means our work is also recognised by mortgage lenders.
As experts in dealing with invasive species, we work to ensure the problem is resolved and that you can enjoy or sell your property with peace of mind.

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Our Bespoke Live Reporting System

When you choose us, you can rest assured knowing you’re working with highly skilled specialists who know the right solutions to your buddleia problems.  

Our local experts use our bespoke live reporting and scheduling system to enhance our customers’ experiences, giving you minute-by-minute updates on our progress.  

With a simple click of the button, you will be able to easily check on individual site details, access receipts, receive quotes and view inspection reports at any time without ever having to call the office.

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Speak to one of our experts at Japanese knotweed specialists today on 0800 122 3326. Alternatively, please fill in our contact form through the link below.

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