Happy Holidays and New Year's Wishes

susanlynne48(OKC7a)December 24, 2012

Happy holidays to everyone! Thought we might include some of our wishes, hopes, plans for our 2013 butterfly gardens.

I plan to add a larval host plant or more for the Painted Ladies. I get them every year, and never have anything for them to lay their eggs on. American Ladies as well.

Possibilities include Hollyhocks (altho I've grown them before many times, and never had larvae on them), Thistle, Helichrysum, Pearly Everlasting, Pussytoes.

More Tropical and Oscar milkweed.

Plant several Rue plants to supplement Fennel, and to attract Giant Swallowtails.

Choose three Tropicals for potted plants. Won't go with the Miami Sunrise Tecoma because it did not attract any hummers or butterflies. Would like to try the Blue Porterweed this year, and need two more suggestions if you guys have any. Will order from Almost Eden.

Plant small patch of dwarf Snapdragons or Diascia for the Buckeyes. I get them I think because they love the Verbena bonariensis so much.

Recap of 2013:

I had tons of butterflies in spring - Variegated Frits, Clouded Sulphurs, Dogface Sulphurs, Red Admirals, Mourning Cloaks, Question Marks. Virtually no swallowtails this year.

Summer was pretty barren of butterflies, except for the Gulf Fritillaries, which arrived in late summer, around latter part of July. Had a lot of them up until December 1st which is very, very late for them.

Fall populations increased to include Gulf and Variegated Frits, Monarchs, American and Painted Ladies, Dogface Sulphurs, Clouded Sulphurs, a few Cloudless Sulphurs, a few Black Swallowtails, Buckeyes, and of course, my crowning glory, one spectacular, fresh Great Purple Hairstreak! I had numerous Skippers in the fall as well.

All in all, the overall picture was good, but the heat of summer and the drought deterred a lot of butterflies from making an appearance IMHO.

I hope you and your family's have a wonderful Christmas and New Year!


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misssherry(Z8/9SE MS)

Merry Christmas to you, Susan, and all the other Butterfly Forum posters out there!

I hope the Ptelea trifoliata I planted this year in the raised bed in my front yard grows vigorously this spring, I'll plant two more, one on each side - it's a long bed. No plant is better loved by giant swallowtails for egg-laying, and the tiger swallowtails use it sometimes.

I plan to order from Almost Eden and plant quite a few of the Louisiana-native purple coneflowers that they got from a vigorous stand of them in that state. The LA natives coneflowers I got from Pine Ridge Gardens are butterfly magnets, as opposed to the ones from other sources, which don't bloom or grow well here. I sowed seeds from the plant in my garden in the meadows, but haven't seen any seedlings so far. The LA natives have slightly narrower leaves that aren't completely round on the bottom, have little toothed lobes here and there.

I plan on ordering at least three white, summer-flowering native azaleas/ Rhododendron serrulatum from Mail Order Natives to plant in the woods. There are a few of them growing naturally in the woods already, and the hummingbirds and butterflies nectar on them - there aren't many blooms in the woods at that time.

I plan on monitoring the newly discovered Pachysandra procumbens I found in the bottom of the hollow in the spring. It's supposed to make a flower that looks like a miniature white bottle-brush buckeye, so it might be attractive to butterflies. I found it the other day, didn't know what it was, made its picture, and was able to ID it from my books and the internet. It's a widespread but rare plant, even nearly extinct in some states, so I'd like to see it flourish as the groundcover it's used as in some gardens. I'll be looking for seeds to plant around, to get is going elsewhere. Hopefully, deer and rabbits don't like this one! I'd like to post the picture, but Photobucket isn't taking the usual URL for a link. I'll keep playing with it to try and post the picture.


    Bookmark   December 24, 2012 at 12:00PM
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Sherry thanks for the great "Rosy" pict!(I sort of generalize that group cause I never get the colors here)I have had the male Comet Darners
On the pond,and they are impressive in sunlight!Also,I just happened
To acquire my copy of Butterflies Thru Binoculars florida due to sheer chance when the mailer decided that was what I really meant when I
Ordered Dragonflies Thru Binoculars.I sent more money,and kept both
Books.I am glad I did.I live so far down in Alabama I can use North Florida
Picts and maps.

    Bookmark   December 24, 2012 at 1:22PM
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misssherry(Z8/9SE MS)

I finally figured out how to copy pictures from the new Photobucket set up to this site, so here's the picture of Pachysandra procumbens -


    Bookmark   December 24, 2012 at 1:36PM
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Happy Holidays Everyone!

I am WSing seeds for plants to attract butterflies & bees: Swamp Milkweed, Asters, Tithonia, Verbana, Goldenrod & Maltese Cross. I've also added herbs: Borage, Lovage, Dill, Anise, and Fennel.

    Bookmark   December 24, 2012 at 7:17PM
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Merry Christmas everyone! Glad you started this thread Susanlynne.
Tops on my wish list for my butterfly garden is a Black Willow tree. I'm working to have host plants for every butterfly I could hope to see in my yard. I'm getting very close but there are still a few I need.
I had forgotten that hollyhocks were a host plant. That gives me an excuse to order the 'Red Halo' hollyhock seeds that looked so pretty in the catalogs last year. I'm sure I'll find some others that I want.

Well now you got me looking forward to spring. I need to get some seeds ordered.

    Bookmark   December 25, 2012 at 8:37AM
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I plan on planting more zinnias, mostly red, yellow, orange and purple ones. I have an bigger area planned for next year for the zinnias. I hope to raise more Monarchs than last summer, I raised 489, just could not find that many eggs, I really want to raise at least 500 next summer. but we will see. Have a great New Year, everyone!

    Bookmark   December 29, 2012 at 8:11AM
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mary_littlerockar(8a-7b mid Arkansas)


Congratulations on the number of Monarchs raised. That is a fantastic number!

What types of milkweed do you grow to feed the Monarch cats?

Do you use the zinnias to help draw them in and for nectar. I wish I could grow zinnias here but they just get tacky looking really fast. The best long blooming plants here for me are the Penta's.

Happy New Year, everyone!


    Bookmark   December 30, 2012 at 5:56PM
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Mary, I have the common milkweed plant in our grove and parts of our yard and about 9 butterfly weed perrenials in my flower gardens.
I do go looking for more eggs, around my neighborhood to get my numbers up.
Yes, I plant thousands of zinnias, I have huge flower beds so I can do that. I plan on planting even more zinnias next year, I order from a place that sells zinnia seeds in bulk.

    Bookmark   January 4, 2013 at 7:50AM
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molanic(Zone 5 IL)

I started a new thread for my year end thoughts because I was going to post quite a few pictures and didn't want to jack-up the load time for this thread for anyone with a slower connection.

When you were saying you need to plant more for painted ladies it got me thinking that I need to do that too! When I looked it up I saw they used over 300 different host plants! Definitely less picky than the american ladies. I realized many of the most commonly listed I had already been growing on and off for years. Yet I never saw a painted lady go to them or found any eggs/larvae. Are they more limited in their diet on a regional basis or by what point in their season it is perhaps. I have grown cornflower, annual sunflower, hollyhocks, mallow, malva ironweed, wormwood, pearly everlastings, false nettles. Is there a plant that anyone has had work well in the midwest?

Happy New Year everyone.

    Bookmark   January 4, 2013 at 5:09PM
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Molanic, yes, I have grown many plants to attract the Painted Lady, but never had any eggs/caterpillars at all. Maybe they prefer prairie habitat? I am a city gal, but I still get lots of them and American Ladies, too. I have grown the following:

False Nettle (still have for Red Admirals and QMs)
Malva (High Mallow)
Wormwood/Artemisia ssp.
Thistle (Carduus ssp.)
Lambsquarters (Chenopodium)
Plantain (both lance-leaved and Dooryard)

The Dallas County Lep Society lists the following larval host plants for them, by family, genus and species. You can see I grew/grow many of the plants mentioned:

ASTERACEAE: Yarrow (Achillea millefolium), Pearly Everlasting (Anaphalis margaritacea), Western Sagewort (Artemisia campestris), Mexican Sagebrush (Artemisia ludoviciana), Musk-Thistle (Carduus nutans), Basket-Flower (Centaurea spp.), Tall Thistle (Cirsium altissimum), Texas Thistle (Cirsium texanum), Wavy-Leaf Thistle (Cirsium undulatum), Bull Thistle (Cirsium vulgare), Common Sunflower (Helianthus annuus), Milk-Thistle (Silybum marianum).

BORAGINACEAE: Borage (Borago officinalis), Blueweed (Echium vulgare).

CHENOPODIACEAE: Beet (Beta vulgaris), Lamb's Quarters (Chenopodium album).

FABACEAE: Soy Bean (Glycine max).

MALVACEAE: Hollyhock (Alcea rosea), Common Mallow (Malva neglecta), Little Mallow (Malva parviflora), Running Mallow (Malva rotundifolia), High Mallow (Malva sylvestris), Globe-Mallow (Sphaeralcea spp.).

PLANTAGINACEAE: English Plantain (Plantago lanceolata), Dooryard Plantain (Plantago major).

URTICACEAE: Nettle (Urtica spp.).

I have found several other butterfly species on a few of these plants, like Red Admirals and QMs on False Nettle, Gorgone and Silvery Checkerspots on Sunflowers, Buckeyes on Plantain, and Sooty Duskywings on Lambsquarters. You would think that as common as the Painted Ladies are, and as larval plant generalists, we would have found them on something, huh?

I would like to add Artemisia ludoviciana, Milk Thistle (Silybum), and Pearly Everlasting (I have tried this but not been successful at growing it yet). Maybe another thistle other than Silybum, altho it's potential invasiveness makes me a little nervous about growing it.

Also, you'd think with the numbers of PLs I see in the garden, at least one might be a gravid female, right? But, no such luck so far.......

Maybe we will get lucky this year.


    Bookmark   January 5, 2013 at 10:35AM
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molanic(Zone 5 IL)

Maybe next year when I see a painted lady I will have to stalk it around the yard. I wouldn't say I have ever had a lot of them here. Most things I only see one or two at a time. But I have seen the painted ladies pretty much every year, and have always had at least some of the host plants for them.

    Bookmark   January 7, 2013 at 3:19PM
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Happy New Year to all!!! Snow on the ground here in North Texas this morning but won't be long until we start seeing BFs!
Last year...I had AL cats for the first time on some local weeds that showed up in my BF flower bed...I think it was a type of cudweed but not sure...it was an annual & only lasted through early spring! I also had Varigated Frits for the first time on leftover pansies...would love to get more but the pansies only last 'til we hit 80 during the day! I've never seen them on my maypop or Blue passionvine...just tons of GF cats(my most common cat & BF here!)
I did plant some Mexican Sagebrush (Artemisia ludoviciana) & Pussytoes(Antennaria rosea)in 2 areas. I have English Plantain but last year was the first for it with no cats of any kind on it! It has volunteered a few more plants(I collected most of the seed) & hopefully will attract some buckeyes or PLs this year...I HOPE...I HOPE!
I have scattered lots of Basket Flower seeds(Centaurea americana) & have white yarrow, hollyhocks, Zebrina hollyhocks, & common sunflowers but have never found a single AL or PL cat on them! I have seen moth cats on my white yarrow but nothing else! I also had a couple of plants of thistle this past year in the meadow with no cats on them as well...I'm also apprehensive of letting it go wild because of the thorniness of the plants!
This will only be the second spring for my open wildflower meadow...so we will see how it fares! I scattered a lot of Greenthread & Palafoxia callosa & other local wildflowers I found around my area as well as blue bonnets & indian paintbrush seeds! It will have a lot of gaillardia & horsemint again as well as annual coreopsis!
Looking forward to spring!

    Bookmark   January 15, 2013 at 3:06PM
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mary_littlerockar(8a-7b mid Arkansas)


What a beautiful sight! Bless your heart for growing such a wonderful selection of wildflowers for the little flying things. I could sit at the edge of your meadow all the day long, watching the activity.


    Bookmark   January 16, 2013 at 6:48PM
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butterflymomok(7a NE OK)

I agree, Mary. Lila, your wildflowers are beautiful! Wish I had space for a wildflower meadow. A new school is going in in our neighborhood, and I've considered volunteering to start a butterfly area. There are two areas where drainage has been added as the plot was considered a wet land area. It had been used as a soccer field for many years, so not much vegetation other than grass, and the buildings required special attention to the foundations. We are not too far from the river, so I know the soil is workable and has good moisture.

It's just been in the last couple of years that I have found AL and PL larvae in the garden. I finally got Pearly Everlastings to grow and colonize. It took planting them in an area that is well drained and only gets half day sunlight. I added some more pussy toes to the same area, so the butterflies have a choice. Still can't find the eggs, and don't see the cats until they start making nests. Even found a stray PE plant in another area of the yard that had nests on it!

Another new-to-me caterpillar that showed up this year, was the Common Checkered Skipper. These little tiny larvae appeared on one of my mallow plants that returns each year. So, I raised a cat, and Voila! it was a Common Checkered Skipper. These cats were all over the mallow, and are good hidders in stuck-together leaf nests.

Hope the new year finds all of you well. Like you, I can't wait for spring. Have lots of seeds stratifying--should be ready to plant at the end of this month. Looked at a Convertible Greenhouse, based on the same principle of the soft top on the old convertibles. Little pricey, but they are light weight, can be stored, and are easy to get in and out of. I miss the small portable greenhouse I lost during our horrible winter of 2011. I think that's right--winters seem to run together!

I got a new book for Christmas from my son, "A Swift Guide to Butterflies". More photos and info for identifying those tricky species. My friend, Jim Thayer, has a couple of photos listed. I think it's going to be a take-along book, and a go-to book when I am stumped. Also got "Butterflies of Thailand", which is helping me ID those photos from Laos. Bugguide had an introductory sale, so it was a birthday treat for myself.

Take care,


    Bookmark   January 18, 2013 at 3:21PM
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misssherry(Z8/9SE MS)

Lila, I just LOVE your meadow full of wildflowers! I've got two areas that I call 'meadows' that never look that pretty!

Speaking of painted lady caterpillars, Susan and Molanic, I've planted various plants that they were supposed to use, but never found a cat. But then, I only rarely see the adults here, so maybe that's the problem. American ladies are regulars in spring here, using the locally common cudweed/Gnaphalium pensylvanicum and occasionally rabbit tobacco/G. obtusifolium, which is coming up in greater numbers in one of my meadows.

Sandy, common checkered skippers use Sida rhombofolia here - it's in the mallow family - and I've found cats and raised them to maturity. It was really interesting to see how small they were! I haven't looked for any more cats in recent years, but I've left the Sida to grow just about anywhere it wants, and last year the checkered skippers were probably the most common butterfly in my garden - they were everywhere!! So I guess they did a good job of raising themselves.

Like the rest of you, I'm looking forward to spring. I've already ordered some plants to come in early March, including three vines of the wild types of clematis, C. crispa (2) and C. glaucophylla (1) - 'can't wait to get them. I'll be ordering more of the native Louisiana coneflowers to plant in my 'meadows' plus more wild azaleas, cardinal flowers, the orange butterfly bush Buddleia 'Orange Septre' I've been wanting for several years and other such beauties.

It's less than two months 'til spring, and the way time flies in my old age, that'll be in a few days! :)


P.S. There's a pipevine/Aristolochia debilis listed in the spring Plant Delights catalog. The picture shows a flower that looks something like a cross between our native pipevines and the tropical types, like a much smaller version of A. gigantea. Anybody ever ordered this one? I might order it and see how it does, see if the pipevine swallowtails use and like it.

    Bookmark   January 19, 2013 at 10:19AM
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MissSherry, I'm curious, what pipevines do you grow? I think I recall you have A. tomentosa and A. fimbriata, no? I didn't know if you grew any of the warmer zoned Aristolochias or not. One I've been thinking about, just due to its unusual blooms and foliage, is A. leuconeura. It goes by another name, too, A. veraguensis. I just happen to like it because the flowers are red and the foliage is heavily veined light yellow to white. It's a very pretty pipevine. It is only hardy to zone 9, but I would grow in a pot to overwinter indoors.

There are over 500 species of Aristolochias, but I only know of very few, those being ones I have seen on the web. There used to be an Aristolochia Yahoo Group, and I used to look at their pages on occasion. Pipevines I had never heard of, let alone been able to pronounce.

Anyway, A. leuconeura is from Central America and supposedly is a fast growing vine. I just don't like growing these from seed - except for fimbriata or serpentaria, which grow well from seed - because the seed has to be fresh and there's certainly no guarantee when you order seeds of the more exotic varieties that they're fresh. And some of them take months to germinate. I am too impatient for that.....lol!

While I won't order seeds, I do like to look at the Georgia Vines website, too, for the photos and new varieties of pipevine that she displays in her online catalog.


    Bookmark   January 19, 2013 at 5:37PM
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misssherry(Z8/9SE MS)

I have a lot of A. tomentosas, Susan, which are continuing to spread along the fence, a couple of A. macrohylla, which haven't done as well, but they get so little sun, that might be the problem, and I've got a few A. fimbriatas growing in the raised bed under the constantly expanding A. tomentosa. I also planted a lot of fresh A. fimbriata seeds last year in that same bed - I'm hoping they'll come up this spring. There is still some A. clematitis in one of the beds, but it's continuing to decline, and I haven't planted more. I really don't need any more pipevines, but I like to experiment.

You reminded me about Georgia Vines - I'll take a look!


    Bookmark   January 20, 2013 at 10:34AM
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