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Gary350
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Butterfly Garden

I started a butterfly garden several years ago, not very large only about 3 ft x 6 ft. It is nice to watch the butterflies. It is a bit funny the wind blows across my yard in the same direction 95% of the time. I can look down wind and see butterflies coming for as far as I can see. I assume with wind is taking the smell down wind like a river in the air and when the butterflies cross the river they turn and fly up wind right to my yard. Butterflies love fruit so any time I peal a banana, apple, mellon, etc. the peal goes straight to the butterfly garden. Butterflies like wet sand too so I have a small spot of wet sand in an 8" clay pot. In the past I had not seen many butterflies in the summer but now that I have a butterfly garden I didn't know there were so many butterflies. I can set in a chair right next to the BF garden and the butterflies are right there just inches away, sometimes they land on me. Several places in town like Home Depot and Farmers Co-op have a section called butterfly plants, I pick out several plants for my BF garden. Some plants grow back every year, I like the purple and blue colors the best with several other colors too. The humming birds like the BF garden too.
Last edited by Gary350 on Tue Apr 07, 2009 6:51 pm, edited 14 times in total.

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rainbowgardener
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butterfly garden

beautiful - tell us what zone you are in and what plants are in your butterfly garden. I just spotted a mourning cloak butterfly on my native plant hillside over the weekend, just gorgeous. I should look him up, see what his host plant might have been. I also have a butterfly garden, but he wasn't in it! :)

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rainbowgardener
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mourning cloak

I answered my own question. Here's a link to an article about them that's headed by a very nice picture https://www.chicagowildernessmag.org/issues/winter2002/mourning.html

One of the "winter" butterflies, the mourning cloak is often seen flying very early in the spring. Like other tortoiseshells and anglewings, the mourning cloak overwinters as an adult, even in areas with freezing winters. On sunny days, the mourning cloak's dark color and basking behavior allow it to raise its temperature well above the air temperature. The wings act as solar collectors, warming the hemolymph (blood) in the wing veins and returning the warmed fluid to the body until the butterfly reaches a temperature sufficient for flight.... It was basking when I saw it.

The larvae feed on the leaves of poplar, cottonwood, and willow, as well as elm and hackberry. The only one of those I have is hackberry, but my hillside has a giant old hackberry as well as a bunch of babies. So hackberry it is!

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applestar
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Thanks rainbow! I saw this very butterfly on Sunday fluttering among my parents' fulll-bloom cherry blossoms (we were on our way to the Cherry Blossom Festival). I'd made a mental note to look it up as I couldn't remember what it was.... :D

I'm also trying to decide between hackberry and tulip tree for a front yard tree. This has just added another point in hackberry's favor. If I was sure I had the room, I'd just plant both! :?

Gary350, your butterfly garden sounds wonderful! Mine is still a work in progress. :wink:

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MC's are one of the few species that overwinter (the ones butterfly houses are suppossed to be for, not that I've seen one in a house yet...) I have heard they used to overwinter in outhouses a lot, so we have destroyed valuable habitat... :lol:

My butterfly garden has (off the top of my head)

Flowers
Silphium perfoliatum
Silphium connautum
Solidago rugosa
Solidago canadensis
Veronicastrum virginicum
Liatris squarrosa var. nova angliae
Lupinus annua
Eupatorium rugosa 'Chocolate'
Sisyrinchium angustifolium
Pycnanthemum muticum

Grasses
Carex pennsylvanica
Sporobulus heterolepsis
Panicum 'Northwind'
Panicum 'Cloud 9'
Panicum 'Shenandoah'

Shrubs
Ilex verticilata (bird sown)
Rubus spp. (bird sown)
Spirea tomentosa
Potentilla tridentata (sub-shrub, almost a perennial)

Has the best garden spot inthe yard; I've eyeballed it for veggies but I know what they need and can't bear to take it away...add a puddling bowl (sand in the bottom is a nice touch...) and I can watch them coming from down the block...

HG
Scott Reil

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Love it!!

I'd absolutel love to have a butterfly garden. How beautiful it must be.
Mother's of teens know why some animals eat their young...

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hendi_alex
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I'm a little confused as to what a butterfly garden is? Every garden in my yard seems to be a butterfly garden, and the more species of flowering herbs and shrubs, the greater the variety of butterflies as well as other nectar feeders. My large bed of annuals, dominated by fiesta del sol and zinnias attracts a host of large swallowtails and many other smaller varieties of butterflies. My bed of native perennials seems to attract many different species. And then of course there is the vegetable garden with annuals and perrenials inter mixed which also attracts many butterflies. In late summer, the sulfur butterflies literally form a magical cloud in the veggie patch. At any rate, it would seem to me, that any diverse planting, with an emphasis on butterfly and hummingbird attractants, should result in a large amount of butterfly activity.

I would suggest that giving some effort to providing a variety of host plants for the larvae such that the life cycle can complete in your yard, would give the best result both for you and for the butterflies that you attract. Each year I plant an excess of parsley, fennel, milkweek, dill, and other host plants. For this coming year I've also planted some carrots to be left in the ground as host plants. We also have lots of shrubs and trees that serve as host plants. In particular,we have lots of sassafras in the yard, which I think seves as host to the yellow swallow tails. We are constantly in the process of expanding the selection of native trees, shrubs, and herbs to help provide a balanced habitat for the butterflies and other critters in our area. As the movie said [build it and they will come.] Plant it and they will come!
Last edited by hendi_alex on Tue Jan 19, 2010 2:16 am, edited 1 time in total.
Eclectic gardening style, drawing from 45 years of interest and experience. Mostly plant in raised beds and containers primarily using intensive gardening techniques.
Alex

The Helpful Gardener
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Alex is right; butterflies don't much ask if this is the spot in the garden you've intended for them. I added my plant list to show just that; I did not intend this area specifically for butterflies, but turns out they love it more than the perennial border out front. If you lean more on native flowers, if you add just a few key features like puddling space, a few flat rocks to sun on, perhaps a key nectar plant like milkweed, then they will MAKE it a butterfly garden... my butterfly garden is the one the butterflies chose...

HG
Scott Reil

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live2garden
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I love butterflies!
I have had a butterfly garden for the last 4 years, and this year I plan to do a "remodel" on it.

I thought I would like a natural looking butterfly meadow, but I didn't have a place to sit, and I couldn't get up close to take pictures of all the butterflies.

I have drawn out a plan, and have started my plants; so that by spring I should be ready to go. Here is how it looked last summer , sorry it is a little blurry!

[img]https://my-butterfly-garden.com/old_butterfly_garden.jpg[/img]
Gina loves to garden and to write about gardens! If nothing ever changed, there would be no butterflies!
Attracting Butterflies

The Helpful Gardener
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It's pretty blurry, but I think I see black eyed susans, shasta daisies, cosmos, batchelor buttons, bee balm and Queen Anne's lace (larval food for swallowtails). Maybe some zinns... ooh, just spotted straw flowers. That would work...

How'd I do? (he squinted) :lol:

HG
Scott Reil

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live2garden
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Very Good! You got it exactly right. Those flowers are in my butterfly meadow!
Gina loves to garden and to write about gardens! If nothing ever changed, there would be no butterflies!
Attracting Butterflies

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Rose White
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Location: PA mts. & Mediterranean Sea

butterflies in the woods

The Helpful Gardener wrote:MC's are one of the few species that overwinter (the ones butterfly houses are suppossed to be for, not that I've seen one in a house yet...) I have heard they used to overwinter in outhouses a lot, so we have destroyed valuable habitat... :lol:

My butterfly garden has (off the top of my head)

Flowers
Silphium perfoliatum
Silphium connautum
Solidago rugosa
Solidago canadensis
Veronicastrum virginicum
Liatris squarrosa var. nova angliae
Lupinus annua
Eupatorium rugosa 'Chocolate'
Sisyrinchium angustifolium
Pycnanthemum muticum

Grasses
Carex pennsylvanica
Sporobulus heterolepsis
Panicum 'Northwind'
Panicum 'Cloud 9'
Panicum 'Shenandoah'

Shrubs
Ilex verticilata (bird sown)
Rubus spp. (bird sown)
Spirea tomentosa
Potentilla tridentata (sub-shrub, almost a perennial)

Has the best garden spot inthe yard; I've eyeballed it for veggies but I know what they need and can't bear to take it away...add a puddling bowl (sand in the bottom is a nice touch...) and I can watch them coming from down the block...

HG
:?: What do you suggest I plant in my woods to attract butterflies? Hummingbirds are attracted to the red artificial flowers I stuck among my green plants so I get to enjoy them.

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Hey Rose,

Not too many woodland butterflies; skippers are the leaders there and very fond of Vaccinium (blueberries) and other woodland shrubs and flowers for nectaring, but their larval foods are mostly sedges and native violets. You Pennsylvania sedge would be a great call, mixed with those native violets and blueberries it would be perfect. Blue eyed grass would be a nice mix there as well...

Observe your local environs for other good suggestions...

HG
Scott Reil

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Rose White
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Location: PA mts. & Mediterranean Sea

The Helpful Gardener wrote:Hey Rose,

Not too many woodland butterflies; skippers are the leaders there and very fond of Vaccinium (blueberries) and other woodland shrubs and flowers for nectaring, but their larval foods are mostly sedges and native violets. You Pennsylvania sedge would be a great call, mixed with those native violets and blueberries it would be perfect. Blue eyed grass would be a nice mix there as well...

Observe your local environs for other good suggestions...

HG
:flower: Thanks for such a quick reply. I will certainly make the effort in the little sunshine I have. It's amazing how well informed everyone is here in this gardening forum. Thanks!

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rainbowgardener
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Butterfly plants for woods: cardinal flower and great blue lobelia (both lobelias) are beautiful shade tolerant native wild flowers that swallowtail, skippers, monarch and other butterflies like, as is wild columbine. Some butterflies like goatsbeard and virginia bluebells, also native woodland shade wildflowers. Butterfly weed, bee balm (monarda) and black eyed susan are all basically sun lovers but so hardy and vigorous that if your shade is not too deep, they may grow there, even if not quite as floriferous as in the sunshine. I have seen black eyed susan growing in woods edges. All of them are good butterfly plants (and the first two are also good humming bird plants). Violets are good for feeding butterfly larvae.

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rainbowgardener
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Then of course there's the mourning cloak, referred to at the top of this thread, a beautiful butterfly
(picture: https://www.butterfliesandmoths.org/species?l=1765)

that overwinters, and is the first to emerge, like in March. I was amazed when I saw one last year so early!

They live mostly on tree sap and like cottonwoods, willows, elms and hackberry. I have them because my little woods has a big old hackberry.

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Rose White
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butterfly plants for the woods

rainbowgardener wrote:Butterfly plants for woods: cardinal flower and great blue lobelia (both lobelias) are beautiful shade tolerant native wild flowers that swallowtail, skippers, monarch and other butterflies like, as is wild columbine. Some butterflies like goatsbeard and virginia bluebells, also native woodland shade wildflowers. Butterfly weed, bee balm (monarda) and black eyed susan are all basically sun lovers but so hardy and vigorous that if your shade is not too deep, they may grow there, even if not quite as floriferous as in the sunshine. I have seen black eyed susan growing in woods edges. All of them are good butterfly plants (and the first two are also good humming bird plants). Violets are good for feeding butterfly larvae.
Thanks, I will try them soon and hope to encourage those gorgeous little fellows to visit. :flower:

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applestar
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I came across this Larval Food Plant list. It's out of Texas, but pretty comprehensive and many plants and butterflies are relevant to my area and other areas as well.
https://www.npsot.org/Kerrville/Butterfly_larval_plants.htm

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