The Opening Act
Mid-July heralds in the most spectacular show of all pollinators, beautiful butterflies. It’s easy to attract them to your yard – just provide plants that offer nectar for the adults and foliage for their caterpillars to eat. The nectar-rich flowers in my yard that are in bloom now are below – bold indicates the plants getting the highest traffic:
Angelonia, Bee Balm, Black-eyed Susan, Butterfly bush (Miss Molly is a magnet!), Butterfly Weed, Calibrachoa, Catmint, Chives, Cleome, Clover, Coneflower, Coreopsis, Daylily, Garden Sage, Gayfeather, Hollyhock, Impatiens, Lantana, Lavender, Lilies, Mallow, Mandevilla, Nicotiana, Oregano, Petunia, Phlox, Portulaca, Rose Campion, Roses, Russian Sage, Salvia, Snapdragons, Spiderwort, Sunflowers, Verbena, Yarrow and Zinnias (the Profusion series is incredible!).
A few tips for attracting butterflies:
- Offering a wide diversity of flowers will attract much more than just a few types of butterflies.
- By grouping many different flowers together, you will make it easier for them to access the nectar without having to expend too much energy.
- Mixing in host plants for the adults to lay their eggs on will provide hungry caterpillars with a readily available food source.
- One final note, because insecticides are non-specific, they will kill all insects (including butterflies) and should never be used in the garden.
Butterflies are not the only creatures that benefit from flowers. Hummingbirds, bees, moths, ants, wasps, birds, clearwing hummingbird moths and others assist in pollination and seed dispersal that is important for habitat success.
Act II is just around the corner!
These late summer flowering plants will start to bloom later this month and into August: Agastache, Allium, Aster, Dahlia, Globe thistle, Goldenrod, Ironweed, Joe Pye weed, Obedient plant, Sedum, Sneezeweed and Verbena bonariensis. These flowering plants are high in nectar and irresistible to butterflies! So pull up a chair and enjoy the show!