Butterfly gardens are particularly fun to create because the flowers are extremely fragrant and unique. Once they have matured and the plants are in full bloom, many different varieties of butterflies will flutter along and stop for a drink. Butterflies enjoy numerous plants, but some popular choices that attract a variety of species include Asters, Joe-Pye Weed and Buddleia.
The Aster plant is characterized by fragrant, starry-shaped flowers that look similar to daisies. The flowers have a yellow center and, depending on the variety, white, red, pink, blue, or purple petal colors. The flowers bloom in summer and fall, often providing late-season color August through October. The plant can grow anywhere from 6 inches to 8 feet tall, and the tall varieties should be attached to stalks with garden ties. They grow best in cool climates, under full to partial sun and in moist, well-drained soil. Butterflies attracted to Aster flowers include the American Painted Lady, American Snout, Black Swallowtail, Common Checkered Skipper, Common Sulphur, Orange Sulphur, Painted Lady, Question Mark, Red Admirable and Sleepy Orange.
Joe-Pye Weed is a perennial plant characterized by round clusters of purple or pink fragrant flowers, with five to seven florets per head. The plant grows anywhere from 2 to 10 feet tall. It blooms from July through October, when many plants have finished their blooming cycle. According to the Butterfly website, butterflies attracted to the flowers include the Anise Swallowtail, Black Swallowtail, Giant Swallowtail, Greater Fritillary, Gulf Fritillary, Spicebush Swallowtail, Tiger Swallowtail, Variegated Fritillary and Zebra Swallowtail.
The Milkweed plant is also known as "the butterfly plant" because it is the primary food source for Monarch butterfly pupa. It is characterized by thick, upright, hairy stems and pinkish-purple flower buds. The flowers may also be red, yellow or orange. According to the Woodrow website, the flower buds look like loose broccoli and the flowers are "large and made up of individual florets gathered in an umbrella shaped globe that droops from the stem." Milkweed grows 3 to 5 feet tall and if a stem happens to break, milky sap flows out. The Baltimore Checkerspot, Great Spangled Fritillary, Mourning Cloak, Queen, Viceroy and Zabulon Skipper are among the butterflies that frequent the Milkweed.
Black-Eyed Susan is a common American wildflower that attracts a variety of butterflies. The perennial blooms from seed the first year and is characterized by a purplish-brown, domed center surrounded by bright yellow florets. The center draws Whites, Sulphurs, Brushfoots, Skippers and Blues. The Black-Eyed Susan generally blooms from June through August and grows best in full sun.
Buddleia is also known as "Butterfly Bush" because so many butterflies are attracted to it. It has gray-green to dark green leaves and large flower heads that cover the plant June through fall. It is a bushy plant that grows to be 5 to 6 feet tall. The flower heads are very fragrant and grow 6 to 8 inches long and are seen in a variety of colors, such as purple, white, pink, blue, purple-red, lavender and yellow. Some butterflies attracted to Buddleia include the Black Swallowtail, Cloudless Sulphur, Comma, Giant Swallowtail, Monarch, Mourning Cloak, Pipevine Swallowtail, Polydamus Swallowtail, Spicebush Swallowtail, Tiger Swallowtail and Zebra Swallowtail.
- Photo Credit butterfly 1 image by Igor Pashin from Fotolia.com
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