For adding beauty and interest to a landscape, there’s nothing quite like a butterfly garden. Butterflies are attracted to bright colors and fragrant blooms, but gardeners also need to think of their life cycle when planning a welcoming space for them. For butterflies to stick around, it’s important to create a sanctuary with diverse perennial plants, access to water, and plenty of sun and shelter.
The jewelweed plant attracts not only butterflies but also hummingbirds and bees, making it perfect to include in butterfly-friendly plantings. These yellow to orange wildflowers grow freely all over the continental United States and even in some parts of Canada, so successful propagation isn’t difficult. The plant does like water, but a dry spell probably won’t slow them down much as they self-seed liberally and a little bit of moisture will jump start growth once again. Despite the fact that jewelweed spreads so prolifically, the root system is shallow, making them easy to manage and contain.
If growers want monarchs to visit their garden, growing milkweed is a must. Milkweed plants create the ideal environment for encouraging adult monarchs to lay eggs as they are a favorite source of food for caterpillars. For particularly ambitious gardeners, introducing juvenile monarchs into an established patch of milkweed can jump start the population. Be careful with tropical varieties of milkweed plants as some experts fear they upset migration patterns. It’s also important to avoid pesticides in butterfly gardens – even organic types can kill a monarch chrysalis.
The monarda family includes several varieties of flowers that attract butterflies, including bee balms. Butterflies, bees, and hummingbirds all love their nectar, while the explosive blossoms resemble fireworks, making for visually stunning viewing. Bee balms and other monarda plants are from the mint family, spread freely through their bulbous root systems and enjoy full sunlight. These perennial plants blossom later in the year and are great combined with early spring bloomers.
Blooming profusely all through the summer and into early fall, cosmos are easy to love. Unlike the other perennial plants already recommended, cosmos are annuals. This butterfly plant grows easily from seed and will also reseed itself liberally, so it’s not always necessary to replant them every spring to benefit from the butterfly-loving blooms. Cosmos feed adult butterflies with their rich nectar as well as attracting other garden-friendly insects, and they also make great cutting flowers.
For adding visual impact, no butterfly plant packs a bigger punch than Cardinal flowers. Place these carefully, however, as they need more water than many of the more drought resistant options listed. The Cardinal flower’s red tubular blooms are the perfect nectar dispensaries for not only butterflies but also hummingbirds, so expect a visual display of both plants and wildlife when they are added to a landscape. While Cardinal flowers are perennial plants, they don’t bloom for long. Still, the showy display is well worth the effort, and they are easy to grow and maintain once established.
While many butterfly plants prefer weather that is on the warmer side, Echinacea does best in slightly cooler climates within USDA zones 3-10. They are also extremely drought tolerant, making them perfect for butterfly gardens in high desert areas that receive little rainfall. Echinacea, or cone flowers, resemble daisies, with a large central cone surrounded by radiating petals. These perennial flowers are not only wonderful for butterflies, but the roots also have a reputation as a medicinal plant. It’s easy to while an afternoon away watching brightly colored butterflies alight among the contrasting purple and red petals of Echinacea plants.
There are dozens of good reasons to plant perennials & wildflowers Tammy Sons from Garden Delights Nursery states. Most are easy to care for, spread profusely and adapt well to many different growing environments. They are also the main components of inspiring butterfly gardens, and choosing the right varieties will encourage winged beauties to make regular visits to any yard and garden.