Question re: zones.

Panoply76(8)May 12, 2013

Hello Y'all,

I am very much an amateur gardener and have a question regarding zones. When a plant's info says that it is 'hardy' to zone ___ does that mean that this is the highest zone in which the plant could be expected to thrive, or even live?

Changing gears, this is my second year of building a butterfly/hummingbird garden. Any and all tips are most welcome. I am in Baton Rouge, La.


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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL

That means the lowest zone. Any zone higher should be OK for most plants, with a few exceptions of those that can only live where there's a cold winter.

Are you familiar with the difference in nectar vs. host plants? There's a hummingbird forum and a butterfly forum, if you'd like to check those out.

Some of my fav. plants for attracting them are Lantana, butterfly bush, Cannas, Basil, Coleus, Zinnias, Pentas.

    Bookmark   May 15, 2013 at 5:13PM
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Thank you. Your help is much appreciated. Yes, I know the difference between the two. Nectar are the flowers for the adult butterflies & hummingbirds and hosts are for the cats to eat, right?
I've laid in (host): fennel, dill & flat leaf parsley. Any other suggestions (besides basil)? I don't like annuals, but will plant them when I must so perrenials are th ones I'd like to know more about.
As for nectar plants, I've got: Lantana (all diff. sizes-they vary so wildly!), Milkweed, B-Bushes, daylilies, columbine, a bottlebrush bush, coneflowers, creeping phlox for groundcover and a plant whose name escapes me but, I have been told produces absurd amounts of nectar and grows from 18-24" I was lucky enough to meet a woman last year when I began this project who works at one of my local nurseries who is an avid butterfly/hummingbird gardener and she has been helping me. I can't speak to her unless I am there and she has a minute, but when I do she dizzies me with information. I remember perhaps 1/10th!
Do coleus' flower? What is their use? As for Pintas, I cannot seem to find them online. Might you link me to a page that has good info on them? I'm gladyou told me of cannas, I've never heard of them and they seem to be looooong bloomers. They're so durned big, though! I've already got B-bushes (5) and that bottle brush in - they being large too.
Would you tell me what B-flies cats like basil? I'm way down in zone 8b, remember.

    Bookmark   May 16, 2013 at 12:44PM
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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL

Glad to try to help! I'm in 8b too.

"Nectar are the flowers for the adult butterflies & hummingbirds and hosts are for the cats to eat, right?" Yes.

I usually do Basil, Zinnias, Coleus from seed since they do well in such a short time and much less $$ that way.

Milkweed (Ascleipas) is also a host plant for monarch cats.

Yes, Coleus makes flowers later in the year which are much loved by the BF's and hummers.

Pentas, not pintas, a tender perennial usually sold as an annual, unfortunately usually individually (more expensively) than 4- or 6-packs.

Generally, any flowers with a small, tubular shape, or similarly formed to sunflowers/zinnias will likely be attractive to butterflies and/or hummers.

Yes, Cannas are tall, and need a spot where they can't creep into other plants. Alone where they are surrounded by mowed grass (thus controlling their spread) is pretty common for these. Most do bloom for a long time, especially if occasionally dead-headed, like bi-weekly.

The FAQ at the butterfly forum can answer your questions about nectar plants, which would apply to hummers in general also.

Host plants are species-specific. Not sure from what you said if you are aware or not that particular caterpillars will only eat a few types of plants. And it's not the same plants for all caterpillars. You might want to google something like "perennial butterfly host plants" and compare the list to your zone to find the appropriate ones. Also, different areas have different types of butterflies so if there are no butterflies of a particular type in your area, there's no reason to use space on a host plant for that type. So getting to know the common ones in your area is also something I'd compare the list of plants to.

The hummer forum's FAQ has a good article about other factors that can influence hummers to visit your yard.

    Bookmark   May 16, 2013 at 1:02PM
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Thanks, again, purple. I apprciate your generous help.

Some follow ups &/or clarifications - if you don't mind?

I've had awful luck at growing anything from seed. In fact, all I've managed are hyacinth bean vines (very easy) andVERY long ago, cannabis. How much $ would I be looking to spend buying them already started? Also, how many hosts do I need? Not so much A, B, C & D but how many A's, like.

Yes, I've got the milkweed and thankfully when I bought them they were covered with cats. I've 5 of them and plans for 2 more.

Your idea for Cannas placement would never have occured to me. I'm blinkered when it comes to gardening, I guess.

Yes, I'm aware that hosts are often species specific. It was late Fall last year when I thought of host plants(besides the milkweed) and did a cursory search that turned up fennel and dill. I duly bought and planted them and still don't know if they are in any way appropriate for the cats I get down here. I like the fennel, thugh. It's enourmous and pretty so I'll keep it irregardless. I got a late start this spring and am now trying to get flat leaf parsley from seeds. I don't expect to succeed. DEFINITELY something I need to learn, local B-flies and what their cats dig.

Much Appreciated! Esp as You are a Southerner as Well!

    Bookmark   May 17, 2013 at 9:35PM
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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL

I don't mind at all, but not sure I understood the "alphabet question," sorry!

Zinnias aren't usually sold already growing because their life is so short, and the leaves tend to be really ugly with mildew.

Basil would be with the herbs/veggies, shouldn't be more than a few $'s for a plant or two (which propagate so easily, that should supply you with plenty if you like doing that kind of thing.)

Coleus are often sold in 6-packs for about $2, or more unusual and/or larger individually potted for about $3-$10. Larger plants can go up in price to $25+.

Growing things from seeds is not easy, but some of these are just seeds that are prevalent, cheap, and almost always come up when just scattered on the ground, hence their famousness for doing them that way.

I'm flattered you'd call me a southerner, but I'm a transplant. Glad to know I'm doing a good job emulating, even if they say I can never truly be called that. Smiles!

    Bookmark   May 19, 2013 at 10:52AM
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