Monday, August 22, 2005

Build a butterfly garden

8/20/2005 5:00 AM
By: Skip Richter


Butterfly gardening is really popular in Texas, and for good reason. In addition to all the beautiful flowers, you get the flying flowers, the flutter-bys or butterflies. They really add interest to the garden setting.

We can attract butterflies to our landscapes. You put in the right kind of plants and the butterflies will show up. Or as they say, if you build it, they will come.

There are two basic types of plants we use: First, the blooming plants, the things that attract the adults. Those are wonderful and attractive even when butterflies are not present. Then there are the plants that feed the larva, the larva food sources that feed the little caterpillars that turn into butterflies. We have many good plant choices.

One of the best larval food sources is the passion flower of passion vine. The blooms are gorgeous but it attracts the Gulf Fritillary butterfly, one of these orange butterflies you see in the garden. They'll come like a magnet to the passion vine. Another good larval food source is tropical or Mexican milkweed that attracts the Monarch butterflies to your landscape.

Then there are many great blooming choices. I like cone flower. It's an excellent perennial for Texas, a good choice for bringing butterflies in. Pentas make a great choice for sun and part-shade locations. It's an annual in most of the state and perennials in some parts. Butterflies really love this plant. And then lantana, you don't get a tougher plant than lantana, not only a beauty in the blooms, but a magnet for butterflies.

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