Saturday, March 10, 2012

Some basic advice on butterfly gardening

A few days ago, a friend in Austin e-mailed and asked if I could suggest the names of some native plants that she could plant for a butterfly garden. "This is a new project for me so I'll be learning as I go," Ana wrote. "Any info or resources you can provide is much appreciated."

After I sent her my thoughts on plants, I thought why not share my suggestions online? 

So, OK, here goes:

Right off the bat, I'd
highly recommend Greg's blue mistflower. It's a perennial that dies back and spreads by the roots. Queens and monarchs LOVE to nectar on the blooms. As a companion, plant butterfly weed as a host plant for the caterpillars.

For a fall butterfly attractor, I'd suggest
fragrant mistflower, which grows into a shrub.

The native
Texas lantana is another good one.

Passionflower vines host the caterpillars of the Gulf fritillary. 

Flame acanthus (loved by hummingbirds) host the caterpillars of crimson patch and Texan crescent.

Dill and rue host black swallowtail caterpillars.

Pipevine (we bought some at John Dromgoole's Natural Gardener in Austin) host pipevine swallowtail caterpillars (although we haven't gotten any yet...the nursery has a butterfly garden, and there were LOTS of caterpillars on their pipevine).

Turk's cap




   For further reading, I'd suggest these reference books:

Caterpillars of Eastern North American, David L. Wagner, Princeton University Press.

The Life Cycles of Butterflies, Judy Burris & Wayne Richards, Storey Publishing.

Native Texas Plants: Landscaping Region by Region, Sally Wasowski and Andy Wasowski, Taylor Trade Publishing.



Steph@RamblingWren said...

Great Post! Definitely looking to add some butterfly attracting plants to my yard this year. Do you happen to know if the Flame acanthus gets out of control? I heard that it will reseed freely.

Sheryl Smith-Rodgers said...

Ours has grown into a shrub that's gotten fairly large. I'll try and shoot a photo and post it....

Lucy Abbott said...

I did it again! I accidentally rejected a comment. Sorry!!!! ---sheryl

Lucy Abbot wrote:
Here in Houston, I always seem to have just a ton of the Cloudless Sulphur (Phoebis sennae) butterflies. During a warm winter like this year…I have them all winter long. I try to always remember their love of plants in the partridge pea family or senna for hosts and keep those plants around. I love having many host plants, because if you plant them…the butterflies will come. Your blog is great! I can tell you are very knowledgeable about native Texas plants and critters.

Unknown said...

Nice line-up of plants there. However, applying native plants also depend on the location and the specific butterflies existing in your area.

For more info, you can click here for butterfly flowers

Judy Burris & Wayne Richards said...

Thank you so much for suggesting our book, "The Life Cycles of Butterflies". We really appreciate being included in your article!

Sheryl Smith-Rodgers said...

I love your book! Thank you for visiting my site!

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