Butterflies are some of the most beautiful, interesting creatures in any garden, and considered by many to be God’s most glorious gift to gardeners. Sadly, buildings, roads, parking lots, and strip malls negatively impact the natural habitat of butterflies, and are the main reason so many butterflies are attracted to backyard gardens. These days, more than ever, survival of these beautiful creatures is dependent upon our gardens. There is no mystery to a butterfly garden; it is any area that is attractive to butterflies. Creating a space of “butterfly bait” not only improves their environment but also attracts more butterflies for our enjoyment.
It is easier than you might imagine to draw these fairy-like winged creatures to our gardens. Butterfly larvae and caterpillars need plants for food, and adult butterflies need plant nectar. Consequently, the best butterfly gardens fulfill both of these requirements. It is simply a matter of choosing the right plants to attract butterflies and to encourage them to stay.
Most inviting to butterflies are gardens with sunny areas sheltered from the wind, areas with garden mulch, rock crevices, brush piles, and even some weeds. With its many different blooming plants a butterfly garden soon becomes a place of beauty. A window box, part of your landscaped yard, and even a wild untended area on your property can be planted to attract butterflies.
Gardening for butterflies is not only fun, but is the source of something beautiful and rewarding. Plant a garden for butterflies and sit back and watch them entertain you with their fascinating antics.
Among the plants beguiling to butterflies are:
Shasta Daisy – This perennial bloomer produces HUGE white flowers that are irresistible to butterflies. They cannot stay away! The blossoms of this season-long bloomer have been exceptional this spring. A bonus characteristic of this popular plant is that rabbits, deer, and pack rats don’t care for this butterfly magnet.
Salvia - There's a salvia for every garden: some salvias are tall, others are short; some salvias have blue or purple blooms, and others have red, orange, or pink flowers. While you might have trouble choosing your favorite salvia, butterflies won't. Rest assured that whichever salvias you plant, masses of butterflies will flock to them every summer.
Coreopsis – The yellow flowers of this lush plant seem to glow in the garden even in the brightest light. This perennial never stops showing color all summer long. Shear back the plant with hedge clippers after each flush of blooms starts to fade; it will spring into bloom all over again several times a year.
Phlox - Throughout the summer the large beautiful clusters of red, pink, and lavender phlox blossoms will enhance their surroundings. Delivering years of perennial enjoyment, the blooms bring their sweet fragrance to entrance butterflies and delight humans.
Echinacea - If you have a sunny spot that needs planting, there are lots of reasons to grow a coneflower. Butterflies of many varieties love sipping its nectar, and it is very heat and drought tolerant. Also, because it blooms all summer long, it’s the perfect addition to a cutting garden.
Anise Hyssop – Besides drawing butterflies, there are other reasons to grow anise hyssop. Deer and rabbits leave it alone, it is heat and drought tolerant, and blooms for weeks in late summer. Also, it’s a good source of cut flowers.
Pentas - All-around garden champions, pentas bear clusters of star-shaped blooms in bright shades of pink, red, and white. They love hot conditions, hold up pretty well to drought, and are a sure bet for attracting butterflies and hummingbirds looking for enticing snacks.
Verbena - This plant is perfect for cut bouquets because its blossoms will not be depleted. The more you cut the more it blooms, guaranteeing a supply of lavender-purple blooms at the ready for “your” butterflies to enjoy.
Zinnia - Just about everyone loves zinnias, which is why they’re favorites of butterfly gardeners, cottage gardeners, and beginning gardeners. They bloom in an almost endless range of heights and colors and, whether outdoors or in a vase, they look good all summer long.
Black-eyed Susan - This tough perennial blooms in late summer. Its big, yellow, daisy-shaped flowers are as perfect for bouquets as they are tempting to butterflies.
Fennel – This is the plant for adding texture to a garden. It's also a surefire way to attract swallowtail butterflies, as the caterpillars can’t resist fennel's ferny foliage.
Miss Huff Lantana - Colorful is the definition for the flowers of this lantana. It blooms all summer long in glowing shades of lavender, pink, red, orange, yellow, cream, and white. A versatile plant, it looks perfect in containers, beds, and borders. This lantana is an outstanding butterfly lure for any garden.
The entire list of butterfly-attractor plants will be posted on my Facebook page at www.facebook.com/wattersgardencenter 'Like' the page for the updated post. If you are not a Facebook fan, a one-page hard copy version will be available free for the asking when you visit the garden center this week.
Don't forget Mothers Day – Moms love giftcards to their favorite garden center:)
Until next week, I'll be here at Watters Garden Center helping gardeners attract more butterflies.