Pretty garden shrub could devalue your home and is 'more dangerous than Japanese knotweed'

Buddleia attracts many species of butterflies but can get out of control and threaten native habitats
-Credit: (Image: shared content unit)


Homeowners are being alerted that their gardens could be harbouring a highly invasive plant that can cause significant damage. According to some experts, the pretty shrub could pose even more of a threat than the infamous Japanese knotweed.

Popular in gardens and attractive to insect pollinators including honey bees, bumblebees, butterflies and moths, Buddleia can wreak havoc on properties. Although regarded as an 'invasive non-native species', Buddleia is not listed in the Wildlife & Countryside Act 1981 which outlaws the spread of notorious plants such as Japanese knotweed, giant hogweed, Himalayan balsam and floating pennywort.

Buddleia was brought over from China in 1896 when some specimens were acquired by Kew Gardens but it soon spread into the wild because of its tiny winged seeds that are easily carried through the air. It's also known as Butterfly Bush and despite the attractive spikes of fragrant purple flowers - sometimes also in pink and white - Garden Buildings Direct says it's a real risk and can soon establish itself in cracks in brickwork, undermining the structure of buildings.

The shrub can easily sprout in unwanted locations, such as roofs, walls and window sills. It is estimated to cost £1 million a year in damage - including listed historic sites - and is considered a destructive weed by Network Rail as it is frequently seen in walls and buildings at train stations and along railway lines.

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Its robust fibrous roots enable the bush to grow through buildings and foundations, potentially causing expensive damage to homes across the UK. As a result, this invasive shrub could negatively affect house prices.

The bush also poses an environmental problem as it outcompetes native plants by spreading its roots and occupying space. And due to the large amount of nectar it produces, the bush distracts pollinators from visiting native flowering species, reducing the reproductive and survival success of other plants.

Garden Buildings Direct says those who already have a Butterfly Bush in their garden should consider replacing it with something less invasive. Buddleia can be effectively treated with herbicide either by spraying or injecting it into the trunk, causing the plant to wither and die.

If the plant has already infiltrated your home's structure, then it must be removed by professionals to prevent further damage.

A spokesperson said: "When it comes to avoiding plants, most gardeners and homeowners know to stay clear of the pesky Japanese Knotweed. Buddleia is admired by many because its beautiful flowers and full shrub make it an attractive addition to any garden. The shrubs also attract butterflies and are loved by birds and bees.

"However, Buddleia is another risky shrub to stay away from. If you already have one and are concerned it may be impacting your garden and home, you must treat it effectively to make sure it doesn't come back.

"If your Butterfly Bush has crawled up the side of your home, you will need professional help to make sure the shrub hasn't impacted the infrastructure of your home. Any structural damage can be extremely expensive and time-consuming to repair.

"If the shrub is further away from your home, one way to prevent it from spreading and germinating is to prune the flowers before they are able to seed."