Working in a nursery certainly has its advantages. When the butterflies are out in force, it is a show-stopping display!
Most of you know that butterflies have less specific “nectar” plants for the adult butterflies and more specific “food” plants for the caterpillars. It is interesting that the adults will often scope out where to lay their eggs while they are feeding on nectar. For this reason, it is helpful to have some of the “food” plants nearby when planting your nectar garden.
An example of a “food” plant for a Gulf Fritillary butterfly would be a Passion Flower vine. Although the Gulf Fritillary butterfly will visit other flowers for nectar, the caterpillars strictly feed on the Passion Flower vine. The Monarchs will use Milkweed as both a “nectar” plant for the adult and a “food” plant for its caterpillars, but the adult will visit other flowers as well. The Monarch caterpillars will only feed on Milkweed, and may die from starvation if there are none to eat!
Walking through the nursery, it is easy to spot the flowers that the butterflies like the best. My personal favorite is the Gregg’s Blue Mistflower. It is covered with blue Ageratum-like flowers and is an absolute butterfly magnet! The butterflies flutter around in a cloud above them.
Tropical Milkweed, aka Butterfly Weed, and Buddleia, aka Butterfly Bush, are named for the butterfly, so we know they will attract them! You can also count on:
Verbena Fall Aster White Mistflower Purple Coneflower
Turk’s Cap Duranta Blackfoot Daisy Orange Zest Cestrum
Salvia Skullcap Damianita Flame Acanthus
Tx. Sage Gayfeather Flowering Senna Rock Rose
Penta Zinnia Lantana Passion Flower
Bee Balm Honeysuckle Crossvine Almond Verbena
For those of you wishing to provide the “food” plant for the caterpillars as well, plant some Dill, Fennel or Parsley to attract Black Swallowtail butterflies. Some more “food” plants for caterpillars are:
Flame Acanthus -> Crimson Patch Butterfly
Fall Aster -> Pearl Crescent Butterfly
Anacacho Orchid Tree -> Long-tailed Skipper
Fragrant Mistflower -> Bordered Patch Butterfly
Now you have some ideas for plants to put in your butterfly garden. The butterflies are putting on a show here at the nursery. Come enjoy the show and bring home plants to bring in the butterflies!