Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Gardening for Wildlife

Mostly I garden for Butterflies and myself.

This morning I went out to see what were the favorites for nectar.

Not necessarily the top favorites, but popular with Swallowtails are Caesalpinia and Tecoma stans. They are my summer favorites because of the large size shrubs and huge clusters of bright blossoms. In winter, they're just sticks, coming back in late spring for summer bloom until frost.

This morning's favorites are Porterweed in two colors. The tiny clusters of blooms will fade by this afternoon, replaced next  morning by a new cluster until they reach the top. That spike will then have seeds and new spikes follow elsewhere on the stem.  There is a native Stachytarpeta and one from the tropics. Butterflies seem not to care which one grows in the garden.

If Porterweed gets crowded, there's always a nearby daylily to dive into.

Mostly, butterflies like flowers that are kind of flat or a cluster of tiny shallow blooms. It's always fun to see one dive into a deep blossom.

Another favorite is Pentas. Pentas come in all heights, this big rose color one is a hardy choice.
I have cuttings of white and pink Pentas that are still waiting transplanting.

 A fiery skipper and a checkerspot whose picture didn't turn out well were nectaring on white Lantana.

 Gulf Fritillaries like lantana, too. For some reason white Lantana is most vigorous this year, crowding and shading out even Bermuda grass
 Echinacea is popular with beneficials of all kinds.

Okay, why am I letting weeds grow among my butterfly plants? Rabbit Tobacco (Pseudognaphalium obtusifolium) is a host for ladies: American lady (Vanessa virginiensis) and painted lady (V. cardui) butterflies. I rather enjoy the aroma of a pinched leaf; resinous, a little like sage.

I was on the way to see if I could find larvae on Pipevines in a kind of out-of-the-way spot when I noticed peaches behind the greenhouse. 

As I circled around, I noticed that a volunteer Red Cedar had dead spots, so it may die before It is finally taken down.  

Suddenly, as I'm talking to myself about the tree, something sprang from bushes where Pipevine grows into an oak. At first I thought it was the red-eared rabbit that hangs around the upper garden. As it ran, I realized it was a fawn with bright white spots, heading for the cornfield.

After it disappeared while I stood there looking, I realized I had a camera in my hand, turned on and ready. It was too late. 


  1. Fritillaries have been all over the zinnias and tithonia.

    1. Tithonia reseeded but it is slow to bloom here. Oh! I didn't plant zinnias. It isn't too late, they will bloom until frost. One would think I look back at the previous year in my blog once in a while.

  2. This is exciting! I have planted my new garden with lots of plants that are meant to attract birds and bees and butterflies, so perhaps I will soon be able to capture some pictures such as your lovely ones.

    1. Thank you for visiting. I tried to leave a message on your blog but it went poof! before I was ready. If it took, it will point you to Wordpress where I rarely post, but no matter.

      I look forward to your garden having beneficials whose photos you will share.

  3. Wonderful butterflies, the fun of blogging is all kind of plants and butterflies from all over the world come passing by. I admire your Caesalphinia and porterweeds, so beautiful. The Tecoma stans I know, long ago I took seeds with me from Madeira and growed it in my greenhouse until the very cold winter made an end to it.

  4. Great photos of the butterflies that visit your gardens.

    Happy gardening and butterfly watching ~ FlowerLady

  5. That's how my attempts at wildlife photos usually go too! One day I hope I'll have the large population of butterflies you do - your photos capture them well.

  6. Your butterfly and flower pictures are beautiful! I am envious of all the butterflies you have seen this year. For the past several years I have had lots of varieties here in central IL, but this year I haven't seen very many--despite having lots of flowers that they like. Maybe they will still come!

  7. You have such beautiful butterflies in your part of the world. How exciting to see a fawn in your garden. I saw some pentas at a local nursery yesterday and thought of you. They must like more heat than we have as I don't see them grown here much but am on the lookout since you introduced me to them.


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

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