Monday, April 11, 2016

Butterfly / Hummingbird Garden

Paul and I were talking about attracting butterflies to a landscape this past Saturday during “The Garden Clinic” on WTMA. In case you were listening while driving and couldn't take notes or missed the radio show completely, but are interested in attracting butterflies and hummingbirds, here are a few tips.

There are many plants that will attract butterflies.  The ones I’m going to recommend will give you the bonus of attracting hummingbirds as well.  I’ve had all of these plants in my yard and they do very well in the Lowcountry with a minimal amount of care. 

One of the first plants that come to mind is the Butterfly Weed.  The monarch butterfly lays its eggs on this plant and when the caterpillars come out, they will devour the foliage.  Do not spray insecticides!  The foliage will come back quickly and you don’t want to kill the larva of the monarch butterfly.  This plant is not a perennial, however it reseeds itself.   When it pops up elsewhere in your yard, you can either replant it where you originally had it or leave it where it popped up.  Some people think it is neat watching the large caterpillars chow down on the plant and others are afraid of the big caterpillars.  This plant provides an important host plant of the Monarch Butterfly’s life cycle and will guarantee you will get plenty of butterflies.

Pentas, Bee Balm, Black Eyed Suzanne, Hibiscus, Plumbago, Lantana, Mexican Sage, Verbena, Vitex, and Glossy Abelia are all good choices for Butterfly Gardens.  If you have a railing around a porch, a Passion Vine does very well.  Of course every Butterfly Garden must have a Butterfly Bush.  A Bottle Brush should definitely be planted as well.  When at the garden center, choose red varieties, when you have a choice (i.e. red Hibiscus versus yellow). 

When you buy these plants they can all go in one little area for a compact “Butterfly/Hummingbird Garden”.  You may also want to plant several plants in one location, then have others groups throughout the yard for the “Butterfly/Hummingbird Yard”!  If you have a new landscape, it is very easy to design your yard to attract butterflies and hummingbirds.  Also consider a source of water for the visitors to your yard.  Leave the insecticides on the shelf away from your guests.

There are many other plants that will attract butterflies and hummingbirds; these are just a few of my favorites that I have had great success with.  Some plants that you would not normally think of attracting butterflies are pine trees, oak trees, birch trees, hack berries, and blueberry bushes.

The butterflies and hummingbirds will add movement to the landscape and a whole new dimension. The colorful plants are a plus as well. 

Now is a great time to enjoy two other butterfly attracting plants, the Dogwood and the Azalea.  It is a great time to get out and enjoy the many gardens in the area as well as Hampton Park.  Get out there soon or the Azaleas will be gone for another year.