Butterfly Garden

neeshacMarch 6, 2012

I tried to search for what I want to know, but I could not figure out how to refine my search to just Alabama section of the forums. I am wanting to get a butterfly garden going this year. I had one last year, but it was not all I had hoped it would be. I live in Kimberly which is north of Gardendale. Could anyone be so kind as to point me the way to a good source for types of plants to grow that would provide food and shelter for both larva and adults? I have heard that butterflies are on the decline, so I want to do my part to help provide for them.

Again, I am sorry if I offend for reposting a topic asking for help on what I am sure is a very popular subject.

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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

First of all, please don't feel like you can't ask questions which have already been asked. At any given time, in any given forum you will come across a new 'batch' of people needing answers and new folks who like to answer them.

Secondly, you needn't focus your search strictly on Alabama. Many of the plants that will be recommended to you can be grown in all parts of the country. Be sure to visit the Butterfly Gardening Forum, not only for some good reading, but to ask questions. There are some terrific experts from the South that frequent that forum.

I like people to think on a larger scale than just their butterfly garden. Try to think of your entire yard as potential butterfly (and moth) habitat. Moths and butterflies use trees and shrubs as cover and resting places, for example. Shrubs should be have an open structure so that these insects can find their way inside. Little sheared things don't do the job.

Now, since you mentioned caterpillars, I know that you are willing to enter into the world of plant sacrifice! Not all are happy to do so, or don't have the room to grow plants that are bound to be eaten up.

Personally, I try to avoid planting host plants for caterpillars because I have so many birds. They enjoy the assorted larvae in the veggie garden, that's for sure, but I am not willing to plant all kind of larval food throughout the garden just for the birds to devour the caterpillars.

Of course, nectar plant options are practically endless. Favorite nectar plant lists can be found all over the Butterfly Gardening Forum threads. Flowering annuals often bloom for longer periods of time than perennials and can really help create a flurry of activity in the garden.

Attached is a nice website that is well worth visiting, if you haven't already. It does not go into the moths, however, and I find them even more interesting and beautiful than most butterflies. You'll find lists of butterflies and lists of the plants they are associated with.

Here is a link that might be useful: Click here to see

    Bookmark   March 7, 2012 at 12:00PM
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jcalhoun(8b Mobile County AL)

Just about all of the milkweeds will grow well in Alabama and many are native. I have had butterflies visit my scarlet sage, marigolds, California poppies, and purple coneflowers.

I would suggest that your butterfly garden be away from roads so cars don't hit them as the flutter around to get to and from your garden.

    Bookmark   March 8, 2012 at 12:48PM
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My shasta dasies seem to attract a lot of butterflies. Good luck.

    Bookmark   March 28, 2012 at 9:43PM
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catbird(z7 AL)

One year I had some fennel that had reseeded among other plants in a border. In late summer, I discovered 12 fat, beautiful, black swallowtail caterpillars on the naked stems of what was left of the fennel! I suspect that the resulting butterflies were among the ones sipping from my butterfly bushes the next year. For that, I will happily sacrifice fennel or dill. Note: Butterfly bushes reseed and are said to be invasive in some areas, but I've never had a problem with them and the butterflies do love them. Flat, open flowers like coneflowers and daisies are usually popular with butterflies and beneficial insects.

    Bookmark   April 1, 2012 at 9:05PM
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Parsley is another swallowtail caterpillar favorite. Last summer the dill I planted went to seed and died before the caterpillars showed up but they happily chomped my parsley to the nub.

The parsley came back thicker and greener than ever -- actually it's still in my garden.

    Bookmark   April 1, 2012 at 9:36PM
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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL(8B AL)

Had several kinds of butterflies visiting my zinnias (tall, shocking pink ones) all summer last year, and a couple hummers. My Mom's passion vine gets completely eaten every year by gulf fritilary caterpillars.

    Bookmark   April 2, 2012 at 4:36PM
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