Butterfly gardening in your backyard: fill your yard with living colors with garden educator Patricia Collins.
At the mention of gardening for butterflies, images of brightly colored "winged jewels" wafting gently among a dazzling array of flowers probably come to mind. In the butterfly world, planting brightly-colored flowers is like hanging out a neon "Diner" sign. They seem especially attracted to lavenders and purples, as well as reds, oranges, and yellows. Grouping colorful flowers together is helpful-just to make sure the butterflies find the right spot!
After they locate the flowers, butterflies have to search out the nectar. Many flowers that seem very plain to humans actually have ornate "nectar guides" that are invisible to our eyes. Just like runway lights at the airport, flower patterns guide the butterfly to the nectar source. A butterfly probes the blossoms with its tubular tongue, or proboscis proboscis
elongated, flexible feeding apparatus, formed of the fused mouthparts, in some insects. , much like we would use a drinking straw. It is important to select flowers whose nectar is easily accessible. Choosing single-petaled varieties rather than multiple-petaled double varieties increases the chances of readily available nectar for your winged friends.
Since a butterfly's proboscis is not as long as a hummingbird's tongue, short, tubular flowers are more appropriate for attracting butterflies. Having some variety in the length of flower tubes helps accommodate various sizes of butterflies. Skippers and smaller butterflies can nectar on the smaller flowers, while a larger butterfly with a longer proboscis is right at home with longer flower tubes.
Butterflies are active, especially in the Southeast, on any warm, sunny day. As gardeners, we should be prepared for them. Providing good nectar flowers as early and as late in the season as possible will increase the opportunity to enjoy these winged wonders. Planting early, mid-season, and fall-blooming flowers is certainly important. Good early bloomers include flowering fruit trees and both native deciduous and cultivated azaleas. Keeping summer-blooming plants deadheaded increases flowering through the fall until a killing frost. Buddleias, marigolds, zinnias, annual salvias, and verbenas are a few plants that are especially receptive to deadheading and will continue blooming late in the season. Replant marigolds and zinnias in midsummer to insure good flower production throughout the fall. Nectar flowers in the fall garden are a must, since we see a plethora September and October.
We must remember that butterflies are insects. This me cold-blooded creatures have a body temperature that is influenced by their environment. Providing some basking spots-rock walls, stepping stones, or pathways-that catch the early morning sun in spring and fall is helpful.
We can't forget the larval stage of butterflies-caterpillars! In order to encourage more of these marvels of nature to inhabit our garden, we supply host plants on which the females can lay eggs and which later furnish food for the caterpillars. Each species seeks out a specific kind of host plant. Most people seem to be familiar with Monarchs and the fact that they lay eggs only on plants in the milkweed family. A brilliant orange-flowering native milkweed milkweed, common name for members of the Asclepiadaceae, a family of mostly perennial herbs and shrubs characterized by milky sap, a tuft of silky hairs attached to the seed (for wind distribution), and (usually) a climbing habit. , Butterfly Weed, acts as a Monarch host plant and is also a prime nectar plant, especially for Hair Streak butterflies. Bloodfower, a taller, bicolor bicolor
a coat color of two colors. In dogs, usually black with tan markings but may be other combinations such as ticking on a white background. In cats, more than two spots of color on the body, either white and one basic color, or white with one tabby color. milkweed, is a wonderful addition to the butterfly garden and is often chosen over the Butterfly Weed as a host plant by Monarchs.
The "parsley worm" is another familiar garden inhabitant, eating parsley, dill. and fennel. This green and black caterpillar with yellow spots becomes a beautiful Black Swallowtail upon maturity. Planting host plants among the nectar flowers encourages more butterflies and increases chances of observing the entire process of metamorphosis. Putting in several of each species of host plant, such as a border of parsley, helps eliminate the problem of one plant being completely defoliated de·fo·li·ate
v. de·fo·li·at·ed, de·fo·li·at·ing, de·fo·li·ates
1. To deprive (a plant, tree, or forest) of leaves.
2. by hungry larvae. It is fascinating to observe a female Gulf Fritillary depositing eggs on the tendrils Tendrils is an irregular collaboration between noted Australian guitarists, Joel Silbersher and Charlie Owen (musician). A difficult sound to describe, Tendrils features two seemingly chaotic but strangely melodic and complementary, guitar parts and occasionally stripped back of Passion Vine and then, after a couple of days, to discover the orange, spiny caterpillars munching away on the leaves. A number of host plants are native weeds or trees. As long as the appropriate weeds and trees are in the vicinity, the butterflies seem to find them!
Creating damp areas or shallow puddles in the garden is really providing something special for butterflies. Rather than taking a long, thirsty drink, butterflies actually extract minerals and salts from the moist soil. Saucers filled with moist sand are great. An occasional splash of liquid fertilizer increases the chances of butterflies visiting the "puddle." Lepidopterists who have studied this phenomenon of "puddling puddling: see Henry Cort. " butterflies have found that certain species tend to congregate near muddy stream banks and that the puddlers are mostly males of the species. Sulphurs, Azures, Red Admirals, and Swallowtails are some of the butterflies observed at such "watering holes."
A butterfly garden can take many avenues, from a formal flower border to a natural wildflower meadow. In short, gardening with the needs of butterflies in mind can be incorporated into almost any type of garden.
Try these flowers for a wonderland of butterflies!
Whites and Pastels: 'White Lightning' Lantana (Lantana montevidensis),'White Profusion Butterfly Bush (Buddleia buddleia or buddleja: see logania.
or butterfly bush
Any of more than 100 species of plants constituting the genus Buddleia, native to tropical and subtropical areas of the world. davidii), and 'Mt. Fuji' Phlox phlox, common name for plants of the genus Phlox and for members of the Polemoniaceae, a family of herbs (and some shrubs and vines) found chiefly in the W United States. (P. paniculata).
Single Petal varieties: Creeping Zinnia (Zinnia zinnia, any species of the genus Zinnia of the family Asteraceae (aster family), native chiefly to Mexico, though some range as far north as Colorado and as far south as Guatemala. The common zinnia of gardens (Z. linearis),'Red Sun' Zinnia (Z . elegans), and 'Disco Yellow' Marigold (Tagetes tagetes
pl -tes any of a genus of plants with yellow or orange flowers, including the French and African marigolds [Latin Tages, a god of ancient Etruria] patula).
Short Tubular flowers: Glossy Abelia a·be·li·a
Any of various deciduous or evergreen ornamental shrubs of the genus Abelia, native to Asia and Mexico and having opposite simple leaves and small white, pink, or purple flowers. (Abeliax Grandiflora), Porter Weed (Stachytarpheta purpurea), Pineapple Sage (Salvia salvia: see sage.
Any of about 700 species of herbaceous and woody plants that make up the genus Salvia, in the mint family. Some members (e.g., sage) are important as sources of flavouring. elegans), and Blue Anise anise (ăn`ĭs), annual plant (Pimpinella anisum) of the family Umbelliferae (parsley family), native to the Mediterranean region but long cultivated elsewhere for its aromatic and medicinal qualities. Sage (S. guarantica), Globe Amaranth [Gomphrena globosa)
Good Nectar Flowers: Butterfly Weed (Asdepias tuberosa), Bloodflower (Asdepias curassavica), Honeysuckles (Lonicera spp.)
Host Plants for Hungry Caterpillars Butterfly Weed (Asdepias tuberosa), Bloodflower (Asclepias curassavica), Passion Vine (Passiflora incarnata), Parsley (many varieties)
Native trees tulip poplar, wild cherry, elm, willow, and hackberry hackberry: see elm.
Patricia Collins serves as the Director of Education for Callaway Gardens in Pine Mountain, Georgia Pine Mountain, Georgia may refer to any of the following locations in the United States: