Friday, April 19, 2013

Nectar Plants for a Butterfly Garden, part 1

First in a series of Butterfly Posts from my Foxes Earth blog © 2005-2006. I still plant these same nectar plants. I still see the same butterflies. Some years they come in greater numbers.

Gulf Frits in a Row
Butterflies are swarming tithonia, zinnias and marigolds, lantana and verbena, and pentas.
Chains of tiny orange sulphurs swarm over damp spots on the ground.
Some butterflies are more shy about having their photo taken; the swallowtails and fritallaries sometimes appear to pose.
--August, 2005
Tiger Swallowtail and Pentas

Many of our native butterflies prefer plants that have pink, red, purple, yellow or orange flowers. Butterflies appear to be attracted to areas with large masses of a single color, or closely related colors, rather than gardens with many colors mixed together.

Most butterflies must land in order to get to the nectar. They prefer plants having either clusters of short tubular flowers, or flowers with large, flat petals.

Butterflies are active from early spring through frost; having a mix of plants in your garden flowering throughout this entire time will attract them all season long. During times when there are no flowers, watch to see what weeds butterflies are visiting and allow some to grow.

Insecticides will kill many butterflies and their caterpillars. Try biological controls, such as ladybugs, lacewings and preying mantids as a first line of defense. These are often already present in the garden. For pests like aphids, whiteflies, mealybugs, or spider mites, use insecticidal soaps or horticultural oils applied only to affected areas on the plants. Herbicides also may have a negative effect.                                                                


  1. simply beautifully captured shots... lovely!

  2. You get to see such a lovely collection of different butterflies.

  3. Just wonderful! I saw my first butterfly of the year about a week ago. My Butterfly Weeds are coming up and I made a garden totem for them to get a drink. I love seeing the butterflies in the garden.

  4. Nell, I had a post on my blog from a Jean C****...I don't know if you are the same person and do not want to insult the poster, if I am incorrect. However, I linked this article in the post because the museum is referencing it. I hope you don't mind but you are more versed (which is a huge understatement). Anyway, I just want to ask permission (or in this case, forgiveness)>

  5. Thank you all. Julie, Jean Campbell is Nell Jean. Foxes Earth was my first web site, still viable for viewing on ATT but I can no longer access it for changes or additions. I copied some of the butterfly posts to bring here.

    Butterflies are scattered all through my blogs: Dotty Plants Journal, now my greenhouse blog gets an occasional butterfly. Secrets of a Seedscatterer is also on Wordpress, same name but usually different posts.


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

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