Butterflies in Phoenix

BasilGirl(9a)March 23, 2014

I pinned a few things on attracting butterflies. I do companion planting and have zinnia, gazania (I think), lantana and nasturtiums all in my 9' x 9' corner plot (pictured). Plus I have a lemon tree that is buzzing with bees.

However, I really wanted to attract butterflies. Based on something I saw on Pinterest, I added a yellow plate that is hanging low to the ground and put some cut orange slices on it.

I tried googling what butterflies are in season but all I get is the butterly exhibits.

So, GardenWeb, what is appealing to butterflies this time of year...or ever...in suburban Phoenix?

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MaryMcP Zone 8b - Phx AZ

Incense passion vine! We're discussing it on the thread about a vine for a hot wall. The passion vine is the host plant for the gulf frittiary 'fly. I can dig up some volunteers for you if you are interested. Not instant gratification. It takes time for the plants to do their magic. It's not like attracting birds with a bird feeder, which does have almost instant results. What part of the valley are you in?

    Bookmark   March 23, 2014 at 7:29PM
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Thank you, I'd love to take you up on that. Maybe we can trade for those sweet potato slips I'm getting in. My company has four offices through the Valley so I've been driving quite a bit the last week or so. Where are you?

Also, can the vine be grown in a container? I would actually prefer to plant it in the ground but I have pit bull that's a digger/chewer. You can see part of the black puppy pen that I'm using as a fence to keep her out. Fingers crossed, its worked for the last month.

    Bookmark   March 23, 2014 at 8:11PM
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P.S. Does this mean the butterflies are not going to want the orange slices I put out for them??

    Bookmark   March 23, 2014 at 8:12PM
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Sadly the best butterfly attracting plants for this area are difficult to find. My favorite is Eupatorium 'Boothill' greggii, aka Conoclium greggii, aka Conoclium dissectum, which is a magnet for Queen butterflies. October photo
According to one of Mary Irish's books Ageratum corymbosum is even better.

Conoclinium betonicifolium blooms later in the fall.

Tropical milkweed, or Bloodflower (Asclepias curassavica) is a host and nectar flower for Monarch and Queen butterflies as are native milkweeds Asclepias subulata, A. linaria, and A. angustifolia.

Pipevines Aristolochia watsonii and Aristolochia fimbriata are host plants for Pipevine swallowtail butterflies. Ornamental South American pipevines will kill the caterpillars.

As marymcp said Passiflora is a host plant for Gulf fritillary butterfly caterpillars except for some of the red flowering varieties.

These plants are intermittently available at nurseries like Baker, Berridge, Summer Winds, A & P, Treeland, and Shady Way. Sometimes at spring and fall sales at Desert Botanical Gardens and Boyce Thompson Arboretum.

    Bookmark   March 24, 2014 at 12:43AM
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MaryMcP Zone 8b - Phx AZ

Thanks for all the butterfly info Jon. Now I know where those beautiful swallowtails are coming from. I have a huge Pipevine and it is flowering again now. It really went off about 4 months ago with just dozens of those crazy flowers....I'll see if I can find a picture of one. And the passion vine too for BG.

BG, I've never heard that about orange slices but anything is possible. Although either you or someone in your area has to have the type of vine(s) that produce the caterpillars that then create the butterflies, in order for them to arrive.

Here's some shots of the Dutchman's Pipe Vine (Aristolochia Gigantica):

And an Incense Passion Vine flower:

    Bookmark   March 24, 2014 at 7:55AM
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MaryMcP Zone 8b - Phx AZ

BasilGirl, I will let you know when the passion vine volunteers start popping up in the garden. If you want to come up to Glendale to pick up a few starts, you are welcome to do that. It's a beautiful vine but you should be aware that the caterpillars that make such pretty butterflies, are voracious eaters of the leaves. It's good the vine becomes somewhat invasive so there are plenty of leaves for them.

I don't know how to propagate the Dutchman's Pipe Vine. I received mine as small plant starts - one from a nursery in Ventura CA and one as a trade from someone on Dave's years ago. Unlike the passion vine, the DPV does not like the hot, brutal sun.

    Bookmark   March 24, 2014 at 8:02AM
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Awesome info; thanks to both of you. Marymcp, I'll take you up on the volunteers when they are ready. I used to live in New Orleans and my goal always was to recreate a lush landscape so anything that vines fits into my mad plans :-)

I'll keep an eye out at Summerwinds for the others. I'm usually there every weekend.

    Bookmark   March 24, 2014 at 1:43PM
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We were just at the Desert Botanical Gardens butterfly exhibit, and they have butterfly feeders as you describe. These attract bees, too.

What are those pretty orange flowers in your garden? And did you make those chicken-wire trellises for climbing plants, or did you buy them somewhere?

    Bookmark   March 24, 2014 at 3:24PM
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I'm not sure what kind it was but it was pretty big. Yellow with brown or black markings. It might have been orange.

Anyway, it flirted with my lemon tree for a bit but didn't settle in so I couldn't get a photo. I moved the orange slices so they are now hanging from one of the lemon tree branches.

Here, little butterfly, here!

OK, now that I've calmed myself. @greendreamhome, I did make the trellises myself. They're 2x2x7; I had Home Depot cut them to size and then I drilled, screwed, stapled and painted. I'm quite pleased with them. The orange flowers in the foreground are nasturtium; the ones in the top right hand corner are zinnia. I put transplants in on 2/23.

Thanks, BTW, for your photo from the exhibit.

    Bookmark   March 24, 2014 at 8:34PM
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This may have been the type of butterfly you saw. It is a Giant swallowtail. They lay their eggs on citrus leaves. The caterpillars look like wet bird droppings. This one is getting nectar from a Buddleja officinalis 'Boyce Thompson'. They also seem to like lantana.

    Bookmark   March 25, 2014 at 12:49PM
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Oh I remember those turd like caterpillars last yr on my lemon tree. So that's what they become? Freaked me out when I saw them as caterpillars. So should I leave them be this yr. There were lots all over my tree and I plucked them off because I've see. Other caterpillars decimate my pepper plants.

    Bookmark   March 28, 2014 at 8:40AM
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The Giant swallowtail butterfly caterpillars don't seem to do much damage to citrus trees especially compared to what sphinx moth "hornworm" caterpillars do to pepper and tomato plants. Unless your citrus are less than a year old and very small I wouldn't worry about the caterpillars.

    Bookmark   March 28, 2014 at 12:52PM
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Great now that's a transformation.

I also grew incense passion fruit, but the catepillars absolutely decimated it to the ground and it never recovered.

    Bookmark   March 28, 2014 at 11:22PM
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grant_in_arizona(USDA Z9 Scottsdale AZ)

Such a fun discussion! Thanks for all of the input, pics and comments. Love it. I agree about passion vines and pipe vines really attracting caterpillars/butterflies, plus those bird poop swallowtails too. I leave them alone on my bigger citrus, but on ultra dwarf or young citrus I move them to a new larger plant. Any milkweed will really help you attract monarch butterflies too. I do get the most bang for my buck with passion flowers. Each summer my little garden is dancing with those fun orange naughty butterflies, LOL.

Thanks for the ID on that butterfly bush, Jon! I've been in love with mine for a few years and just couldn't find any id on it. I remember buying it at Boyce Thompson so now I can put a good label on it, (Buddleja officinalis 'Boyce Thompson'), thanks!

Keep the pics and posts coming all,

    Bookmark   March 29, 2014 at 1:01PM
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The tree Bauhinia Divaricata attracts butterflies like crazy. It is also easy to grow and is a beautiful small patio tree. Unfortunately it is very difficult to find. Wish the nurseries would carry it.

    Bookmark   March 29, 2014 at 3:28PM
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There are Monarch butterfly caterpillars on my Tropical milkweed plants already, usually more of a autumn thing.

    Bookmark   April 7, 2014 at 11:28AM
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I'm amazed at how many butterflies and caterpillars that my two different passion vines attract. The gulf frittalaries arrived within weeks of planting it two years ago and now I have hundreds.
The citrus attracts giant swallowtails, my favorite butterfly.
I haven't tried milkweed but my brother has desert milkweed and gets a lot of marches. I have tropical milkweed seed but wasn't sure what it needs for germinating.

    Bookmark   April 11, 2014 at 11:41AM
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I germinate tropical milkweed seeds on a damp paper towel inside a ziploc bag. I place the bag on a plate and put it on top of the cable tv box. The cooler end of the cable box runs about 85 degrees F.
The germination rate of seeds I harvested is only about 10% after 5 days, so I put the seeds about 1/2 inch apart on the damp paper towel. After the seeds sprout I start them in 3 inch peat pots under grow lights. I usually do this in January and put the plants outside around February 15.

    Bookmark   April 12, 2014 at 12:27PM
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grant_in_arizona(USDA Z9 Scottsdale AZ)

Great caterpillar pic, Jon, and good information on how you sprout your milkweed seeds, thanks for both. Happy gardening all!

Here is a link that might be useful: Pics from my garden, April 2014

    Bookmark   April 12, 2014 at 12:47PM
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Thanks for the milkweed info!

    Bookmark   April 12, 2014 at 4:56PM
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