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Planning My Garden and Hoping For Butterflies

Posted by moonwolf Z6 Central PA (My Page) on
Tue, Nov 23, 10 at 21:09

Hi everyone,

Here are some plants that I'll be growing in the garden next year and I hope to get some butterflies (maybe even some eggs) in the garden. I see a lot of swallowtails (mostly the Eastern Tiger Swallowtail) and I did see one Monarch when walking by the woods (there was some milkweed growing around there). Lots of others that I don't recogize yet, but I will. Anyhoo, onto the plant list!

Balloon Flower
Butterfly Weed (Definitely!)
Milkweeds and Milkweed Vine (Absolutely!)
False Indigo
Black Eyed Susan
Forget Me Not
Blanket Flower
Love In A Puff Vine
Morning Glories
Moonflower Vine

Do I have a good chance of getting butterflies in the garden? I surely hope so! I greatly appreciate all comments and suggestions!

Brad AKA Moonwolf

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: Planning My Garden and Hoping For Butterflies

I'm planning one, too!
I have been collecting seeds & plants for several varieties of BF cats.
I am planning to plant a sassafras plant, a hop ash, & a black cherry for hosting ETSTs as well as GSTs, maybe even a Spicebush swallowtail, if I'm lucky!
I would suggest summer phlox & at least one butterfly bush unless you don't have enough room. They bloom from spring to fall here & they are the swallowtails favorite nectar plants in my yard.
I'm no expert but your list looks good. You have lots of nectar plants but you might add host plants for the BFs you want to see in your yard. It sure has worked for me!

RE: Planning My Garden and Hoping For Butterflies

I'm in agreement with birdnut Brad. You have a nice selection of nectar sources, and now you need to add some more host plants to the mix. Having as many host plants as possible really is the key to attracting and consistently seeing the largest variety of butterflies in your yard. (IMHO) Butterfly bush is one of the most serious and consistent nectar supply drawers here. How about some:
low growing snapdragons
some fennel, dill, parsley, rue
some Pipevine, Passionvine
some spicebush
a little Pawpaw tree
Just some ideas for you. You will need to do your research to be sure that you plant the right variety of each host plant. For instance, not every Passionvine is a suitable host for the Gulf and Variegated Fritillaries.

RE: Planning My Garden and Hoping For Butterflies

Definitely plant some fennel, dill and/parsley for the Black Swallowtails. Let it bolt too, that means to let it grow flowerheads. The Blacks love to lay their eggs in the flowerheads and the cats love to eat them.

As for nectar don't forget the tall, red Pentas !!! They are easy to root so you can plant them everywhere. Tigers love Blue Plumbabo as do the other butterflies.

RE: Planning My Garden and Hoping For Butterflies

Thanks, everyone! Happy Thanksgiving!

I do have limited space and all these plants and more will be scattered thorughout the yard (does that matter?). With the milkweeds I should at least get some Monarchs, right?
Butterfly gardening is fairly new to me so please forgive my questions. I have a passion flower (P. alatocaerulea) but I didn't see any butterflies or cats on it. However, the butterfly that likes this passion flower isn't found in the county I live in.

I typed up a list last night of all the butterflies found in the county I live in. The grand total: *drumroll* 44!
Not all of them feed on the nectar of flowers but still a goodly sum of butterflies in my area!

Brad AKA Moonwolf

RE: Planning My Garden and Hoping For Butterflies

Well then Brad, you just have to put out a dish of fruit and let it get really old and black and slimy. You will draw in the butterflies which primarily feed on fruit/dung/carrion, and some of them will also nectar on your flowers as well. You cut the fruit(bananas, peaches, grapes, etc.) up and mash it a bit. Make sure to keep the fruit dish moist by adding a little water as needed. You can also use canned fruit if you'd like.
It's fine and wonderful if things are scattered throughout the yard. The more the better, I say! Don't apologize for asking questions. The people here are more than happy to help in any way that they can. They want to share what they have learned in order to help others to achieve the best butterfly gardens/experiences possible.~~Angie

RE: Planning My Garden and Hoping For Butterflies

Hi Angie,

I do remember reading/hearing that butterflies do like feeding off of fruit. I'll be sure set out a dish. Mom's set out fruit for the birds but it always draws the bees! How do you keep them away from the fruit?

That's good news to hear! There are different plants, both annual and perennial that are/will be scatttered around the yard. I do remember that a few of them do like the purple coneflower. Some perennials in the yard are:

Roses (two of them; a climber and a grandiflora)
Trumpet honeysuckle (I read it draws the hummers and butterflies)
Sweet Autumn Clematis
Lemon Balm
Bee Balm (I did see a few on it but it drew more bumblebees)

The honeysuckle and sweet autumn are I only planted this year and I don't remember seeing any on the roses. My neighbor (who also bought me the sweet autumn clematis) bought me a hanging basket of lantana with portulaca and the butterflies went crazy over the lantana (I even saw a hummiingbird moth, in the daytime no less)!

Thank you for all your help! I have found the folks here on GW helpful and kind!

Brad AKA Moonwolf

RE: Planning My Garden and Hoping For Butterflies

Well, you can't really keep the bees off the fruit Brad. Just need to set it in a place where you can observe it, but it isn't a direct threat to you I guess. My fruit sits on a table on my back porch. I can look out my sunroom window anytime and see the butterflies, and then use binocs to see if there is something new there. I had a few yellow jackets and an occasional European Hornet on mine this past summer, but it was never covered up with bees. I could stand right over the fruit plate shooting pics, and they never bothered me. They actually become sort of drunk on the fermented fruit. So, the fruit feeders are often in a "trance-like" state, and not inclined to be aggressive. Some of the butterflies, esp. the Hackberry Emperors and Red-Spotted Purples would even fly off the fruit and onto me if I was sweaty! Do study up on your local butterflies, and focus on getting host plants into the yard though. It'll make a world of difference in the numbers of butterflies you will see.~~Angie

RE: Planning My Garden and Hoping For Butterflies

Thanks, Angie! I'll be sure to set out a fruit plate!

I'll be sure to keep researching about the host plants!

Brad AKA Moonwolf

RE: Planning My Garden and Hoping For Butterflies


That's a great list! I'm planning my garden for the first time also, and with the same purposes. I have lots of the same plants as you. One thing I can't wait to plant is coral honeysuckle. I don't know if you're into moths, but it's a host plant for hummingbird clearwing moths. They're so cool!
Some of my BF host plants are

Black-eyed Susans (Silvery-Checkerspots)
False Nettle (Red Admiral, Question Mark, Commas)
Violets (Frits)
Many Milkweeds species,
Hollyhocks (many BF species)
Asters (Pearl Crescent)
Coneflowers (Silvery Checkerspot)
Spicebush (SB Swallowtail)
Parsley and Dill (Black Swallowtail)

The violets grow wild in my yard; whenever I find one, I dig it up and move it to a designated violet-patch. Good luck with your garden! Nice to know there are other beginners out there.

RE: Planning My Garden and Hoping For Butterflies

Sounds great Brad. I got to thinking about this wonderful list and wasn't sure if you already had it bookmarked. Check out this terrific GW host plant list. It'll help you a bunch.~~Angie

Here is a link that might be useful: Butterfly host plants

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