Buddleja colvilei

Location in the Gardens:

Season of interest:

  • Large white centred deep pink to purplish-red flowers are born in drooping racemes amid dark green foliage during early summer.

Description of plant:

A shrub or small tree 30 to 40 ft high, of vigorous growth, producing long arching shoots in one season; all the younger parts of the plant are at first covered with red-brown wool.

Leaves 3 to 10 in. long, ¾ to 2½ in. wide; oval lance-shaped, shallowly toothed, tapered at both ends; dark green, at first downy above and felted beneath, but becoming nearly glabrous on both surfaces.

Beautiful white or crimson flowers with a white throat produced in June in pendulous panicles 6 to 8 in. long, about 3 in. wide.

Ideal growing conditions and habitat:

Copes with most conditions in full sun or partial shade.

Country of origin:

  • Himalaya, India

Highdown history:

Discovered by Sir Joseph Hooker in 1849. Stern planted several different forms at Highdown. In the Chalk Garden he describes the Buddleja colvilei as a favourite of his:

“There are several different forms grown in this garden, but the Kew variety seems not only the finest but also the hardiest ... In a good season it has racemes of bright red flowers hanging down all over it, a wonderful sight ... ”

Other interesting information:

Although tender when young, mature plants have survived very hard winters even in the open ground. It is, however, best planted against a high wall, where the season's growths, on which the flowers are borne in the following summer, are more likely to ripen well and pass through the winter unharmed. This buddleja should not be pruned annually but may be kept within bounds by the removal of superfluous wood. No other buddleja capable of living out-of-doors in the British Isles has such large individual flowers, and it is undoubtedly the handsomest in the genus; Sir J. Hooker even said “the handsomest of all Himalayan shrubs”.

Kewensis: This name has been given in gardens to the descendants of a plant that once grew in the Temperate House at Kew. Flowers a richer red than in the older cultivated form, the leaves a little narrower; the late Sir Frederick Stern also found it hardier when grown in the open ground at Highdown.

Back to top