Butterfly garden advice

Corgikarma(6)September 30, 2013

Hello, I recently planted a a butterfly garden out by my vegetable garden. So far I have Joe Pye Weed, a variety of Sedum, a butterfly flower, obedient plant, milkweed, cone flower, pincushion plant and a few types of butterfly weed. I also have two water dishes and a butterfly house. What would you suggest I add to my garden?
(In separate gardens I also have parsley, dill, pentas and lantana for butterflies and bees)

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docmom_gw Zone 5 MI(5)

I love to grow zinnias for their color and great nectar supply all summer. Others to add would be asters, various types of liatris, penstemon, salvias, more herbs such as oregano, chives and lavender, Agastache, annual and perennial monarda, and many more.

Martha

    Bookmark   September 30, 2013 at 9:27PM
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Corgikarma(6)

Thank you! I do have zinnias, salvias, oregano, and a bunch of lavender spread throught the yard.

As far as host plants, I have milkweed, dill and fennel for next year. What are some more host plants I should plant for zone 6?

    Bookmark   September 30, 2013 at 9:47PM
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larry_gene

See this forum's FAQ for an article about butterfly houses.

    Bookmark   September 30, 2013 at 10:51PM
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docmom_gw Zone 5 MI(5)

Asters and snapdragons are host to some butterflies, but I don't remember which ones. Virginia Creeper is a host to some beautiful moths. If you search on Google you can find lists of butterflies in your area and their host plants. Many use larger plants such as willows, Black Cherry, Spicebush, Sassafras, etc. something eats holes in my Joe Pye Weed. Hope that helps. Though, providing nectar sources that are available throughout the warmer seasons is equally important.

Martha

    Bookmark   October 1, 2013 at 6:29AM
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Leafhead

Asters feed Pearly Crescents; Snapdragons and English Plantain feed Buckeyes.
Pussytoes, Cudweed and Everlasting attract American Ladies, and Hollyhocks, Thistles and Mallows attract Painted Ladies.
Legumes, such as Senna and Cassia (esp Pigeon Pea), will attract Sulfurs. Anything in the Mustard Family (Brassicaceae) will attract Cabbage Whites (introduced from Europe) and a variety of native Mustard Whites.

    Bookmark   October 1, 2013 at 12:27PM
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Leafhead

Oh, I almost forgot to mention, Nettles or False Nettles and lot of Violets in the shady parts of your garden will bring Red Admirals, Commas and various Frittilaries.

    Bookmark   October 1, 2013 at 12:35PM
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denver_blossom

When you say you have a butterfly flower, do you mean a butterfly bush (Buddleja davidii)? If not, then you definitely need to add one.

    Bookmark   October 1, 2013 at 2:25PM
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weed30

Rue is a great host plant for Black Swallowtails and if you're lucky, Giant Swallowtails. It grows to about 3' tall and is a very pretty little bush. Do read the warnings about sensitivity/rash though. I have never had a problem, but some do.

If you plant it, make sure to follow the advice of pruning in early spring so it will bush out. I've let mine go and they've become quite leggy. I plan to cut them way back next spring, and hope they do ok. I'll plant some new ones at the same time for insurance :)

Here is a link that might be useful: rue

This post was edited by weed30 on Tue, Oct 1, 13 at 22:18

    Bookmark   October 1, 2013 at 8:55PM
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Corgikarma(6)

Thanks for all of the advice! I do have buddelias as well as gaura lindheimeri

    Bookmark   October 1, 2013 at 10:55PM
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docmom_gw Zone 5 MI(5)

Sounds to me like you have already got a wonderful butterfly haven set up.

Martha

    Bookmark   October 2, 2013 at 7:40AM
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efeuer

I agree with Martha. You are doing great! Just be observant and you will surely learn more what works best for you. Congrats on an already great job!
Liz

    Bookmark   October 2, 2013 at 9:56AM
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Corgikarma(6)

Thanks everyone! I was lucky enough to find two small spicebush starts at a local metro park for $4 each! Very excited. I was hoping to get all of my planting finishes up this fall so it's all ready for spring but it looks like I'm going to have to wait until then to buy rue or start from seeds. I also want to add more milkweed but that too will have to wait until spring as everyone around here is sold out for the season.
I do have a question. We are organic gardeners as is our neighbor to the left. The rest, not so much. How much will neighboring gardeners effect the butterflies coming to our yard?
I really appreciate all of the advice! Gardening is addictive and, at 25, I don't know a lot of people who share my enthusiasm for it besides my gardening family :-)

    Bookmark   October 3, 2013 at 10:22AM
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docmom_gw Zone 5 MI(5)

As far as your neighbors, you are lucky to have at least one organic person around. The butterflies and other insects will find your gentle oasis and enjoy it. Of course, they may wander into the chemicals nearby, but all you can do is set an example and share the beauty of nature that you attract and explain to every one you can what you do and why.

Martha

    Bookmark   October 4, 2013 at 7:46AM
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weed30

Be sure and find out if the town you live in sprays/fogs for mosquitoes. If so, you will not be able to have host plants within 20 - 30' of the street unless you cover them on "spray nights". If you don't, butterflies might lay eggs, but all the cats will die a day after they eat their egg shell and perhaps start munching on the host plant.

Where I live, my "spray night" is Thursday. I quickly learned to throw an old sheet over the host plants before dusk to keep the spray off the plants. In the morning I'd throw the sheet in the washer so it was ready for the next spray night.

Now I only have host plants in the back yard so I don't have to bother with the sheets. I still worry that the butterflies that nectar on my front garden flowers are ingesting the spray though :(

    Bookmark   October 4, 2013 at 8:44PM
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cmgvw9

MyRunoff.org's Rain Garden Bot can suggest butterfly garden plants for you based on your color, wildlife, watering, and height preferences. It could help you add to your garden.

Here is a link that might be useful: MyRunoff.org's Rain Garden Bot

    Bookmark   October 11, 2013 at 7:20PM
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