Butterfly gardening not only adds immense beauty, serenity and joy to your life, each garden is a vital link in providing for our pollinators who provide us with a great service. The threats are many, the solution is that each person take responsibility and create a safe haven for all life. It can be done. Each one teach one. Learn and share and enjoy.
It’s finally spring and planting season is soon upon us. I worry. Why? Because so many people buy their beautiful plants at big box stores and from many gardens centers whose plants are laden with pesticides and chemicals. They attract the pollinators to their death.
If everyone were to ask their garden centers for plants without pesticides, perhaps they would get the idea that there is money to be made with less toxins because for them it is the bottom line, and absolutely nothing else.
Another element I worry about is that so many plants have been hybridized for physical beauty, human eye candy only, that don’t support any other species. Pay attention.
Go native. Plant for pollinators. Nourish your gardens, and they will nourish you.
Partial List of Larval Host Plants – butterflies need these plants to lay their eggs:
asters – Checkerspots , Pearl crescent
azaleas – Striped hairstreak , Gray comma
clovers – Sulphurs, Blues, Hairstreaks
hollyhock – Painted ladies, Skippers
lupines – Blues and Sulphurs
garden carrots, dill, fennel, parsley – Black Swallowtail
milkweeds (Asclepias syriaca, common milkweed) and/or A. Incarnata, A.pulchra
Monarchs (also good nectar plant for many butterflies including fritillaries)
New Jersey Tea – Spring azure
parsley/fennel/dill – Swallowtails, Painted lady, Crescent
pearly everlasting – American painted lady
plaintain, snapdragon & verbena – Buckeye
violets – Fritillaries
wild indigo & other legumes – Orange sulphur, painted lady
Partial list of Butterfly Nectar Plants:
Agastache (mint family) – skippers, many butterflies and hummingbirds
Ageratum – skippers and hummingbirds
Asters – monarchs, black swallowtail, painted ladies, crescents, many others
Bergamot (monarda, bee balm) swallowtails and humnmingbirds
Black-eyed susan – many species
Buddleia Davidii – Butterfly Bush – monarchs, swallowtails, many others
Butterfly weed (Asclepias tuberosa) – swallowtails, monarchs, sulphurs, hairstreaks
Echinacea purpea (purple cone flower)
Ironweed Joe Pye Weed
There are many trees and shrubs that are not only host plants for many species, but offer shelter from wind and storm.
RESOURCES: Two of my favorite sources for plants in the Hudson Valley area are: Catskill Native Nursery, 607 Samsonville Road, Kerhonkson 12446 and Northern Dutchess Botanical Gardens, 389 Salisbury Turnpike, Rhinebeck, 12572
PLEASE PLANT MILKWEED: It is the sole plant upon which monarch butterflies can lay their eggs. Recreational use of pesticides and GMO mono-culture has destroyed too much milkweed.
The Xerces Society now has a Milkweed Seed Finder, a comprehensive directory of milkweed seed vendors across the country. The Seed Finder provides quick access to locally native seed sources with an easy-to-use drop down menu of all commercially available milkweed species across the United States, and a state-by-state directory of seed companies that offer them. www.xerces.org