Sunday, July 19, 2020

Attracting Butterflies

Since retiring in November, I’ve spent a lot of time in my garden.  I’ve done everything from replacing drip lines to general pruning and shaping of plants.  Everything is thriving and that makes me happy.  I plan to plant a boat load of plants in the fall — I’ve started a new planting bed by the barn which will primarily be lavenders and agastache, which are fragrant and don’t need much water. And, I plan to fill in more spaces in the front flower beds and make some changes in the bird/pollinator bed.

This is a butterfly bush (buddleia) which is very beautiful, very showy, and the nectar attracts butterflies.  However, it is also invasive and not native.  If you really want butterflies in your garden you need to have plants that they like to eat as caterpillars.  Sure, you get some ratty looking, chewed-up, leaves on those plants but you also get lots of butterflies instead of ones that happened to grow up nearby and found your butterfly bush.  The butterfly bush below is particularly showy and I plan to keep it but the others (two in the bird/pollinator bed and three in the front flower bed) are going to be removed in the fall.  I will replace them with something else that attracts butterflies.

I will be adding more coneflowers (Echinacea) since the ones I planted last fall are doing great.  I like to make sure a particular plant is going to do well before investing in a truck load of them.  Coneflowers are a great native flower here in California, much loved by pollinating insects and butterflies.

The new planter I created up by the turnouts behind the barn will be filling up with native and drought resistant plants.  Right now it just has that one beautiful butterfly bush, one agastache and one nepeta.  I’ll be adding more of the agastache and nepeta, iris, milkweed and lavender.  It should be humming next year with happy bees and hummingbirds.  And butterflies.

In the bird and butterfly bed, I have the agastache (hummingbird mint) below and creeping hummingbird trumpet (Zauschneria) going crazy happy.  
Creeping hummingbird trumpet
So far, I’ve seen a lot of butterflies: swallowtail, painted ladies, small blues and buckeyes mostly.  I’m hoping the milkweed I plant will bring monarchs next year.

1 comment:

  1. I bought my first coneflower this week and will plant it in fall and hope it comes back in spring and looks as amazing as yours does. So far my hummingbirds are ignoring it in favor of some purple penstemon I got, and my hanging petunias. Your garden looks so lush and beautiful though, with everything grown in so well. Hope I get there someday (we just moved in one year ago).


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