by Ken Lain, the mountain gardener
How to attract more butterflies into the gardens was this week’s most-asked question from friends, family, and garden center customers. Because butterflies have their favorite foods, the answer is the same whether you are in a townhome, cabin in the pines, or the newest track home on the block: it all comes down to the right plants. Readily available water sources also are butterfly magnets, but a garden’s irrigation provides enough water to attract them. So, “it all comes down to the right plants”!
This list of butterfly-attracting plants is not exhaustive but ensures your landscape will have more butterflies than you do now. If you plant them, they will come!! (Click on each named plant to access more information.)
Butterfly Bush is the essential plant to attract more of these majestic creatures to your landscape. Most are in bloom at the garden center now in a rainbow of colors. For more accessible care with the same number of flowers, look for mountain dwarf varieties that are equally attractive to butterflies and to the gardeners who plant them.
Butterfly Weed has clusters of butterfly-attractive yellow and scarlet red flowers. This easy-care, well-behaved plant needs little attention and delivers terrific landscape color. Try planting this beauty in a glazed pot right on the deck or patio for a real show.
Whiteout Candytuft is an improved variety of good ol’ candytuft. Dense branching and uniform flowering keep this popular plant covered in pure white flowers from its edges to its center from early to late spring. For a dramatic effect, plant them in masses and watch the butterflies be drawn in as if to magnets.
Bronze Carpet Stonecrop needs little water once established. This beautiful trailing succulent forms a lush, ground-hugging mat with dainty pink flower stalks rising above the bronze-red foliage. Useful in borders, rock gardens, and containers, it’s an excellent contrast to green- or gray-leaved plants.
Easy Elegance Roses are for new gardeners who fear that roses are hard to grow. Elegance roses flower all season steadily, so there is always a show of colors to enjoy. Include astonishingly clean, disease-resistant foliage and a perfectly round form, and you have dependable, easy-care roses.
Miss Huff Lantanais the cold-hardiest lantana yet, with established clumps known to survive temperatures as low as 0°F. Showy orange and pink flowers cycle throughout the warm season. It’s an excellent choice for blistering hot locations, along hillsides, and in patio containers.
Mango Shoutout Red Hot Poker has striking mango-orange flowers that bloom continuously from summer into fall. This drought-tolerant plant attracts hummingbirds and butterflies and adds magnificent color to mixed beds and mass plantings.
These are my top 6 summer-blooming plants for butterflies. For more ideas, you’ll have to visit your favorite garden center. Here is the link to a list of all 88 mountain-hardy butterfly plants. Also, printed copies are available at Watters Garden Center.
FUN GARDENING CLASSES grow green thumbs of even novice gardeners. Classes are free and are held at Watters Garden Center at 9:30 am every Saturday morning.
July 30 @ 9:30 am – Edible Landscape with Trees & Berries
Have your landscape and eat it, too! We’ll share the tips, tricks, and recipes that make for a better, healthier, and tastier landscape. Plant experts will be on hand after the class that specializes in fruiting designs that can be eaten after planting.
August 6 @ 9:30 am – Proper Planting for Success
Privacy, shade, color, evergreen, and blooms. We cover trees for every situation, especially small gardens, including trees for country gardens and trees for difficult sites.
August 13 @ 9:30 am – Wildlife & Bug Prevention
Late summer is not only the peak of bug season. There’s intense pressure from furry visitors in our yards. Students start with best practices to keep javelina and pack rats away, then quickly move to solutions for grasshoppers and tomato worms.
August 20 @ 9:30 am – Best Evergreens for Landscapes
Evergreens can be the anchor of any landscape, providing color and privacy year-round.
August 27 @ 9:30 am – Gardening for Newcomers
Learn all the mountain secrets to local garden success. This information-packed class guarantees more garden blooms and fruit this year.
Until next issue, I’ll be here at Watters Garden Center helping local gardeners attract more butterflies to their landscapes.