May the wings of the butterfly kiss the sun And find your shoulder to light on, To bring you luck, happiness and riches Today, tomorrow and beyond. ~ Irish blessing
Had some success this season and many (ouch) failures as well. By chance I happened to plant some of the right things and had lots of butterfly’s and bees, what a hoot! Ok so my main objective this coming season is going to be to get more butterfly’s, bees and hummingbirds to visit (and hopefully live in ) my garden, because to me, that is what gardening is all about. To sit and just watch all the activity is a truly wonderful feeling! The more I read about caterpillars/butterfly’s and the whole transformation the more I must have them in my garden!
One thing I am glad I did was take the time and do some research when I noticed something was seriously eating my passionflower vine. A very pleasant surprise!
Notice in the pic below all the orange caterpillar’s on the Passion Flower Vine and the beautiful Fritillary Butterfly flying around.
I am very happy to share with them as this is a host plant for this butterfly and they will lay their eggs and the caterpillar babies are one hungry bunch! One of their “nectar plants” is Echinacea flowers, which I’m so glad I grew from seed and planted this season. It’s been one of my personal favorites for years and I will be planting lots more in the future. I’m glad the butterfly’s love this plant as much as I do!
close up of the Caterpillar…awesome!
Some interesting Information……
Butterfly Host Plants
Even though host plants aren’t top-of-mind when planning a butterfly garden, no butterfly garden is complete without these important, ‘behind-the-scenes’, plants.
Host plants are the nurseries of the garden. If you keep an eye out you’ll see the female as she flits around the plant, gently laying her next brood’s eggs, sometimes on the top of leaves but usually on the bottom, hidden from predators.
Then, in 10 to 14 days, the tiny larvae, less than an eighth inch long, emerge and begin eating the plant. It’s a fascinating process as they munch away, growing larger everyday. Equally fascinating is watching the caterpillar leave the plant to form a chrysalis.
Host plants range from flowering plants like Milkweed and Passion Vine, to herbs like Fennel, to bushes as well as trees like Sweet Bay Magnolia.
By including both host plants and nectar plants in your garden, you can attract a wider selection of butterflies while providing an environment that supports their entire life cycle.
Butterfly Nectar Plants
Of the two types of plants you’ll need to attract butterflies to your garden, nectar plants usually get top billing. And why not? They add color, style and beauty to your garden while providing the food most butterflies and other wildlife need to sustain life.
For butterflies, presentation is everything so by grouping a number of the same nectar plants together you’ll help butterflies see your scrumptious offering from a distance.
Some nectar plants have the reputation of being favorites to a wide variety of butterflies – plants such as Coneflower, Butterfly Bush, Tall Verbena and Lantana, to name a few. Be sure to check with your local garden organizations for any plants that may be considered ‘invasive’ in your area.
You may want to consider planting nectar plants that are native to your area. They not only can require less maintenance than non-natives but can bring a welcome variety to your gardens. Check with your local garden organizations for a list of the native plants in your area.
Finally, be sure to extend your garden ‘menu’ with your favorite butterflies’ host plants.
More to come on this fascinating subject.