Thursday, July 10, 2014

It Is All About Attraction

Gardeners are delighted to see "nature" visiting their gardens. If you want to invite more of these visitors to yours, try adding their favorite plants. As with all beneficial species, it is best to choose plants that are native or well adapted to our area.

Often gardeners lament for the lack of butterflies in their gardens. For butterflies, it is important to choose both larval host plants and nectar plants. The larval host plant is the plant a species prefer to lay their eggs on; the nectar plant is a food source. Most all species of butterflies prefer native plants on which to lay their eggs. Try: 
Question Mark

Cedar Elm


Purple Passionvine

Gulf Fritillary





For nectar, plant Coneflowers, Turk’s Cap and Lantana. 

Red Turk's Cap


Native plants to our area that provide both a host and nectar source are Flame Acanthus and Mexican Plum.

Flame Acanthus (deer do not eat this plant)

 Mexican Plum - a good alternative to Bradford Pear

The added bonus is that many plants, such as Flame Acanthus, Butterfly Weed and Lantana, that attract butterflies also attract hummingbirds. A two-fer if you will.

Other perennials to try are Obedient Plant (it is not obedient as my friend, Cecil, would say), Autumn Sage, Coral Honeysuckle and Red Yucca.

Obedient Plant
Autumn Sage

Red Yucca

Coral Honeysuckle

But why do butterflies and hummingbirds prefer native plants to other blooming non-natives? Native plants are part of an ecosystem of other plants that support birds, butterflies, and other wildlife. These plants and animals have lived together in communities for ages and they have adapted to live in balance. Native plants exist naturally in the area. 

So think twice when making a purchase of a plant that naturally grows in another part of the world. Chances are the native critters of your backyard won't like it. Kinda like me and sushi.

Garden on!