Moved to IL...starting to order plants

bernergrrl(z5 IL)March 14, 2012

Hi everyone,

I just wanted to say hi to you all here; we're getting settled in here after our move from NH.

The warm weather has me thinking again about gardens and butterflies, though I have no idea what to expect here butterfly-wise. (Though it was weird when we came to look at our house, and there was a Question Mark sitting on the sidewalk because back I had left my QM chrysalides in their habitat with the top open and knew at that moment they were eclosing.)

We're in a suburb right outside of Chicago, and it's pretty urban, so I am going to keep my expectations in line with my yard: small. :/

I've started poring over the garden catalogs and basically I'm buying what I was giving away in NH....

Anyone here from Oak Park? Would love to get a little heads-up about the best host plants. I've been looking at databases but there's nothing like a knowledgeable person who lives in particular area.

It's nice too see new people as well as the veterans. Sounds like everyone has started off to a great butterfly season.

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Congrats on your new home Bernergrrl!
Hopefully there will be some other homes in the area where people have planted flowers that the butterflies like and they won't have far to wander to find your new yard.

What have you ordered to plant so far?

    Bookmark   March 15, 2012 at 8:30AM
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misssherry(Z8/9SE MS)

Welcome back!
I have no clue what would do best up there, so I'll make a guess.
Echinacea/purple coneflowers would undoubtedly thrive, and butterflies love to nectar on that, especially the plain species.
You could watch for butterflies to see what you get, then plant the host plant for it.
Mourning cloaks are a mostly northern butterfly - their host plants are listed as willows, elms, hackberry and cottonwood. I'd die to have some of those!
Have fun!

    Bookmark   March 15, 2012 at 1:50PM
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I think we have a good number of people from Illinois here on the forum, so I'm sure they will pop in to answer your questions about butterflies found there.

BTW - congrats on your new home. I have a small urban garden, too, and except for last year (drought year), I get a lot of butterflies. I cram as much as I can into my small front yard. The back yard is overgrown and weedy, surrounded by Elm and Hackberries, but a lot of butterflies like that, too. So, I have high hopes for your garden, especially with your expertise that I have watched develop over the years here on the forum.


    Bookmark   March 15, 2012 at 8:06PM
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molanic(Zone 5 IL)

I'm a bit further out west in the burbs in DuPage County. I see mostly tiger swallowtails, black swallowtails, monarchs, red admirals, several species of the small grass skippers, american and painted ladys, spring and summer azures, and of course cabbage whites. I have also seen silver spotted skippers, question marks, sulphurs, and common buckeye. Strangely enough I have not seen an adult mourning cloak yet, but did have a caterpillar in the garden one year. Probably came from one of the numerous elm trees that sprout up as weed trees along fences in the neighborhood. I also have had the nessus sphinx, snowberry, and clearwing hummingbird moths.

You could check the regional checklist on the BAMONA website for your county, if you haven't done so already. The one for DuPage county lists a fair amount of butterflies, but the moth data is lacking. Cook county might be more complete though.

The only things I have raised from host plants so far are monarchs, black swallowtails, and hummingbird clearwing moths. So I can't comment too much on what host plants are best here from personal experience. The monarchs used Asclepias incarnata, A. tuberosa, A. syrica. The black swallowtails ate dill, fennel, parsely, carrots, and rue. The hummingbird moth was on arrowwood viburnum.

I'm always trying to add more host plants, but don't have a lot of room for the trees and large shrubs. I start a bunch of stuff by wintersowing seeds from seed swaps and generous gardenwebbers. I also have gotten plants from a local native plant sale. There are three coming up in late April to mid-May in the area that I know of. The one I have been to is in Wheaton and it is a pretty good deal because you can get small plugs for $1.50. There is also one in Schaumburg and Oak Brook. I think there may be some native plant sales in Cook and Lake county too, but am not sure. Below are links to the three that I know of.

Wheaton Sale

Oak Brook Sale

Schaumburg Sale

    Bookmark   March 16, 2012 at 6:50PM
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bernergrrl(z5 IL)

Hi everyone, Thank you so much for the helpful replies. I ordered some monarda, the small ironweed (I know--can't think of the name now), an a. tuberosa that supposedly handles a wide variety of soil conditions, and some gaura. I am in contact with someone in the area who has echinacea, joe pye, and a few other natives, which is very helpful. I can't say enough how hard it is to spend a lot of money on stuff that I had tons of back east.

Molanic, thank you for that info on the native plant sales--will definitely go. I love DuPage county for what it does for wildlife and for education. I took my kids to their rehab place a few weeks ago and can't wait to go back for the nature trail.

Susan, my very small front lawn will be converted in a garden too. :) I wish I still had the means to do lasagne gardening, but I just can't at this time in my life, so I'll have to do a little shoveling.

Currently, there is a willow blooming in my yard, which makes me very happy, and I just noticed some kind of a violet coming up as well as some sheep sorrel (American copper host) in a few areas. I think there are also elm seedlings unless my dog "pruned" them over the winter. There are some bushes and trees in the yard that I haven't identified yet but will try to do so soon. The backyard has something that looked like a looser, smaller-flowered version of boneset back east, and there may be some kind of helianthus too but I'll just have to wait till summer.

I am excited about possibly trying to get out to some prairies to see Regal Frits, and according to BAMONA for Cook Cty, we'll have many of the same kinds of butterflies here as for where I lived out east. We get Zebras out here too--that'd be new for me.

Thanks to all of you again!

    Bookmark   March 17, 2012 at 9:51PM
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I see a Pawpaw tree in your near future, BG!

It's going to be fun just discovering what you already have in your new yard!


    Bookmark   March 18, 2012 at 7:54AM
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