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 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.
FUN GARDENING CLASSES are coming up that are sure to green-up the thumbs of even novice gardeners. Classes are free and are held at Watters Garden Center at 9:30 on the following Saturday mornings.
August 10 @ 9:30 am – Secret Gardens & Privacy Screens – This class highlights the best, fastest-growing plants for creating privacy screens. You can screen off that neighbor’s unsightly vintage RV, enhance your view or block pesky traffic noise and light pollution.
August 17 @ 9:30 am – Attract Birds, Bees, & Butterflies – Learn the best trees, shrubs, flowers, and grasses that naturally will entice wildlife to local gardens. Because they like so many of the same plants, hummingbirds also are drawn to the plants discussed.
August 24 @ 9:30 am – Herb Garden Designs from Beginner to Pro – Summer is the ideal time to add herbs to our gardens. More than just for culinary use, herbs are staples for mountain landscapes. Learn which herbs are best in the kitchen, reseed themselves, are ignored by javelina, are evergreen, and more. You might be an herbal pro after this class!
Until next issue, I’ll be here at Watters Garden Center helping local gardeners attract more butterflies to their landscapes.