Butterfly Gardening 2013

susanlynne1948(7a-OKC)March 13, 2014

I probably should have posted on Molanic's thread, but I wanted to fill everyone in on my 2013 gardening antics.

I moved in with my DD in June last year. I brought some plants with me:

Monarda didyma
Boehmeria cylindrical
Salvia guaranitica 'Black & Blue'
Salvia 'Hot Lips'
Salvia 'Lady in Red'
Cleome (purple)
Buddleia 'Magenta Buzz Improved'
Buddleia bicolor
Passiflora 'Lavender Lady'
Passiflora incarnata
Aristolochia clematitis

Planted some annuals like zinnias, gomphrena, red pentas, marigolds, Verbena bonariensis, Japanese Morning Glories (had lots of Pink-Spotted Hawkmoths enjoying these), Portulaca

I did purchase plants for an herb garden for my daughter, that included Thyme, Sage (culinary), Lavender 'Munstead', Rue, and a Centauria Montana Blue and a Silene I don't recall the name, with pink flowers. Of the two Rue plants, one died, so we were left with only one. I also planted a big 3 gallon container of parsley, both flat and curly leafed. With that minimal number of plants, we still had plenty of Black Swallowtails and Mama Giant Swallowtail kept coming back for egg-laying on the Rue. These were the biggest Giants I had ever seen. In fact, when I first saw her approaching the garden, I though she was an unusual, exotic bird species!

I also had a few Gulf Fritillaries on the Passion Vines. We had a lot of Yellows and Oranges in the fall. I had planted a Senna bicapsularis, and the Cloudless Sulphurs layed eggs on it. But we had numerous Clouded Sulphurs, Dogface, Little Yellows, and Cloudless.

For a first planting in June, some in July (yes, in the heat!), we had a lot of butterflies, which thrilled me and the kids. Charlotte, then 3 yo, loved watching the caterpillars and butterflies.

Also hung my first hummingbird feeder and had hummers a couple of days later. So, all in all, we had a great critter summer - including the toad who lived under the shrubs in the front yard.

Our yard is surrounded my grape vines, so hopefully we will see lots of sphinx moths there, like Pandoras, Eumorphas, Grape Vine, and Nessus, who all use them as host plants. We did have larvae on the Morning Glories(Pink-Spotted Hawk Moths) and tomatos (Manduca). Also, Walnut Sphinx on the pecans and Walnut trees. There are still a few shrubs I have yet to identify, and don't know if they are any kind of host for butterflies and/or moths yet.

The Hollies in the front yard tend to attract the Red Admirals in spring/early summer. Also had some kind of Aster bloom in very late fall that attracted the Sulphurs In droves. I thought it was Willow at first because the growth and foliage resembled Willow. The blooms are very pale pink.

Anyway, it was a very busy summer with trying to get everything planted and taken care of, and I sure missed being on the forums with you guys!


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mary_littlerockar(8a-7b mid Arkansas)

Susan, I've so enjoyed reading about your 2013 butterfly season. For a fairly new butterfly garden, you had a wonderful season. You mentioned the heat but you don't say what growing zone you're in.

I think the worst of the winter is behind us here in central Arkansas and I am so ready to dig in the dirt again! Here's hoping we all have a great butterfly season this year.


    Bookmark   March 13, 2014 at 2:00PM
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docmom_gw Zone 5 MI(5)

That does sound like a great result for a first year. I'm hoping to attract hummers this year, too. I may just get a few Fuschia planters, since I don't think I can trust myself to fill a hummer feeder often enough. I'm planting Lady in Red Salvia, also, but they won't be near the house for easy viewing. I'll also have Tithonia and Agastache, but they won't bloom until later.
Hope this summer is even better for you than last. Can't wait for it to get here.


    Bookmark   March 13, 2014 at 4:04PM
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SUSAN!! I have been wondering how you are! I'm glad to hear you have gardening space at your new place.

    Bookmark   March 13, 2014 at 5:13PM
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bernergrrl(z5 IL)

So glad to hear from you Susan and hear about your new gardens! You had a lots of life happening! :)

    Bookmark   March 13, 2014 at 6:59PM
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Sounds like you've got quite a spread there. I'm glad you've started a new Butterfly Garden in the world. Here's hoping you get lots of Monarchs this year...

    Bookmark   March 14, 2014 at 10:39AM
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Thanks to all of you and I do look forward to a great 2014 season. I may not have many Monarchs based on the data from Mexico, but I will grow Milkweed anyway. I have some seeds of A. incarnate 'Ice Ballet', A. syriaca (have plenty of room for it to roam), and A, tuberosa for the nectaring butterflies eventually. The seeds are sitting in a drawer outdoors, so they should come up quickly after planted. Won't be much size to them this year, but next year they'll hopefully get bigger. Meanwhile, if I can get a hold of some Family Jewels and/or Mexican Milkweed seeds, I'll grow some of those for the Monarchs should they come this direction. Since I am the sole source of income for the family, I won't be spending much $ on plants or seeds. Food, shelter, and clothing (little of that) come first.

I need to go in and tweak my profile to reflect my zone - which is 7a, in OKC, Thanks for the reminder,.

Mary, like you, I am ready for warmer weather and gardening again. It's been a very cold, cold winter here, but things are looking up.

Martha, I've been told that Fuchsias don;'t perform well in Oklahoma - darn it, I guess our heat and humidity have something to do with that But I have other hummer plants that do great, like the Salvias, Butterfly Bushes, Flame Acanthus, and Dicliptera suberecta, are a few they really like.

I sure hope that everyone has a fantastic butterfly year in 2014.


    Bookmark   March 14, 2014 at 10:59AM
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Hi Susan! It's so good to hear from you! It's also wonderful that you had such a good butterfly year last year. Mine wasn't so great here and no ELF Monarchs for the first time since I started butterfly gardening in 2005. My daughter and I are so looking forward to helping any that hopefully will show up this year. We'll raise as many as we possibly can!

It sounds like you get lots of different kinds of butterflies there in Oklahoma, probably more than what we do here in PA. You also probably get many more hummingbirds. I usually just have one family of them at the feeders and even then they're fighting amongst themselves.

If you're looking for any seeds of something, please let me know and I'll help you out if I have what you want. Here's hoping that you have another great butterfly year!


    Bookmark   March 14, 2014 at 8:13PM
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Cathy, thanks so much for posting! You've always been such a great butterfly friend.

We do get a lot of species in Oklahoma - not as many as Texas, nor do I get as many Eastern species as you do. I only saw 2 Monarchs last year. So, I am trying to fill in the gaps with Swallowtails and Gulf Frits. I don't get Pipevine Swallowtails as much as you do. In fact, I;ve only had a couple of years in the last 10 where I've had any. Not as many Tigers or Giants either. Black Swallowtails are usually very prevalent, though.

Also lots of Sulphur species and Skippers, a few Hairstreaks, Painted Ladies and American Ladies. I did have a number of Buckeyes last year, too. They loved the Portulaca, Butterfly Bush, and Pentas.

Any seeds are always welcome since that is mostly what I'll be planting. I have some Cut & Come Again Zinnias that they love. I think the Portulace and Marigolds will reseed, as well as the Cleome. I noticed my Fennel is starting to sprout. Usually it stays everygreen over winter, but this year it was so cold, that everything died back to the ground.


    Bookmark   March 15, 2014 at 9:44AM
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Susan, The feeling is mutual! :-) I always appreciate when anyone helps me out with butterfly gardening, and I've been trying to pay it forward. I'm sure that you'll agree that butterfly gardening is so rewarding it really makes a person glad that he/she was inspired to help our winged friends.

Maybe I'll have to cross my fingers for you to get Pipevine Swallowtails this year. I just love raising them and they love that Aristolochia macrophylla. I have so much now (no complaint there) that sometimes I'll take a section that's a couple feet long and put it in a big plastic storage bin (clear, of course) on top of newspaper. Add the cats and you have a caterpillar city. It's so comical how they scurry along on the vines; they really look like they're on a mission! Out of all of the types of cats that I've raised, those are the quickest to go wandering around and trying to escape when I'm changing out their container and am looking away just for a brief time. They can really get those little legs/prolegs going!

Out of all of the butterfly caterpillars to raise, if I had to pick just one favorite, it would be the Pipevine Swallowtail. It's hard to narrow it down, though, to pick a favorite adult for its beauty. As far as I'm concerned, there is no such thing as an ugly butterfly, and there are so many beautiful ones.

I really hope that all of us can get a chance to help out the Monarch this year. I'm really concerned about their future! My DD (she's 28 yo) is quite enthusiastic about the prospect of helping to raise them this year. She knows that their numbers are MUCH below previous years and wants to do all she can to help them, and so do I, and I'm sure others on here feel the same way. So I truly hope that everyone on the forum and other people get a chance to help the Monarchs this year.

I assume that you've raised Tiger Swallowtails then since you've had them there. I don't know if they need special care or what but I had a chance just one time to raise one when I found it on a tulip poplar that I had planted in a 5-gallon pot. I was so excited that I actually was getting to raise one, but then it died. Is there a special "secret" for caring for Tiger Swallowtails? I think they're so cute with those "eyes". Another one I like for that reason (one of the reasons) is the Spicebush Swallowtail. Even though I've had Lindera benzoin bushes for at least five years now, I've never seen any SBST cats on them. I do get the butterflies here though every single year. Perhaps they go into the woods that's beside us and lay on any sassafras trees that might be in there (can't look because the owner has No Trespassing signs up).

You get a nice variety of butterflies there. Who cannot like spring and summer if they see butterflies! :-) I'd love to get more sulphurs here, so I'm going to try to get Cassia hebecarpa and Camaecrista fasiculata started here. I didn't start any seeds yet, but I'm getting there. I'm just behind on things this year. I started a few perennials, but they're all from seeds that I harvested here in the fall, just replacing some plants that died out.

I just sent to Swallowtails Garden Seeds for my annuals, so I'll be excited when they get here and I can get those in milk jugs that I saved over the winter. They have a really nice variety of seeds, but I was disappointed that they no longer have the 'Bells' series of snapdragons. That's the kind that I had here the two years that I found Common Buckeye cats on them (2011 and 2012). I hope that they'll like the 'Twinny' ones that I bought from SGS. I might even hop on over to the greenhouse a few miles away (not yet though) and check out to see what kinds she has.

You're lucky that the butterflies you get like your portulacas and pentas. They ignore them here, but I still think that they're pretty flowers. They also pretty much ignore the Joe Pyeweed, but it's such a pretty, unusual flower that I have it here anyway. I might eventually take it out if it doesn't start getting more action...depends on what mood I'm in at the time. I'm happy with probably all my other plants after much trial and error over the years. What works for one person doesn't necessarily mean it will work for another.

I'm so excited about spring coming, it seems I can't quit typing! *Hee hee* This post to give you my email address got pretty wordy, but I love to talk about butterflies. Anyway, I would be most happy to send seeds to you. Please email me at yomamab2002 at yahoo dot com so I can get your address. Thanks!


    Bookmark   March 19, 2014 at 4:25PM
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