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 town home, 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 easier 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. For a real show, try planting this beauty in a glazed pot right on the deck or patio.
Whiteout Candytuft is an improved variety of good ol’ candytuft. Dense branching and uniform flowering keeps 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 a good 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 steadily all season, 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 Lantana is the cold-hardiest lantana yet, with established clumps known to survive temperatures as low as 0°F. It’s an excellent choice for blistering hot locations, along hillsides, and in patio containers. Showy orange and pink flowers cycle throughout the warm season.
Mango Shoutout Red Hot Poker has striking mango-orange flowers that bloom continuously summer into fall. This drought tolerant plant attracts 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.
Free Garden Classes are offered @ Watters Garden Center
We go deep into growing better. Check out this Summer’s class selection offered every Saturday @ 9:30 am.
July 29 – How to Plant Fruit Trees & Berry Plants
August 5 – Planting Success Guaranteed
August 12 – Wildlife & Bug Prevention