Saturday, June 21, 2008

Butterfly Summer

About the time of Summer Solstice, the butterfly garden begins to really put on blooms. Pentas held over in the greenhouse have been blooming since mid-spring. Those that made it through the winter in-ground are blooming now. Pentas are planted on both ends of what I call the Upper Lawn. Pentas are sometimes sold as Egyptian Star Clusters. The blossoms are rounded clusters of tiny individual florets, each tiny bloom worked by the Swallowtails, who ignore purple coneflowers when the summer blooms appear.

Pink and Rose Pentas

Another favorite is Porterweed (stachytarpheta) a tropical plant that is not always reliably perennial here. Last fall I brought in a piece that broke and put in a vase. To my surprise, it rooted in water. I potted it and kept it over the window. It is the first to bloom of the porterweeds, which come in red and blue, actually a sort of coral red and a purple. They grow taller and taller and the tiny blossoms grow up a long whip. More spikes come on as the old ones bloom to the top.

Blue Porterweed

In the butterfly garden, I tuck parsley for the caterpillars of Dark Swallowtails among the nectar plants. In the following photo, parsley is hardly visible between rose Pentas and a porterweed on the end. Scattering the host plants throught the beds makes the caterpillars harder for birds to find.

The first tithonia bloom appeared yesterday. Gulf fritillaries should be soon visiting the tithonia which is paired with orange giant marigolds in another bed just for them.


  1. What a lovely butterfly garden! Can't wait to see the progression over the summer. Hope you post more pictures later on.


I look forward to comments and questions and lively discussion of gardening and related ideas.

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