14 July 2012

Old-fashioned flowers have the most butterfly nectar

If there is one thing we have all learned about attracting butterflies it is that the old-fashioned flower, vegetable and herb varieties provide the most nectar and attract the most pollinators.

 Some of these old-fashioned butterfly favorites have to be given to you by a gardener or found at a real gardeners' plant sale - a plant club of some kind where gardeners take extra plants from their own gardens to offer to the public.

Since they are available at garden sales and as passalong plants, you can assume that given the right amount of time and attention, yours will need to be divided and shared at a future time.
This tall, perennial phlox paniculata came from a neighbor down the road. After she joined our garden club, I stopped in and asked for a few roots - she had a quarter acre of the stuff and what a dramatic sight when it was all in bloom! 
USDA

A dozen swallowtail butterflies collecting nectar on one bed of phlox paniculata - in our side yard. Click on the photo to enlarge it so you can see them all.

 It's native range has spread from the eastern U.S. and now covers about half of North America.

Plant garden phlox out in the open with at least half a day of sun, where breezes can keep mildew problems away. Plan to water practically daily in these 100-degree temperatures, to keep it producing flowers and butterfly shows.

The Illinois wildflower page says small mammals can damage the plants, but even with 50 bunnies in our garden, we have not had that problem. Probably because there is yummy chard planted in the same place.

Cold hardy to zone 4. 
 Primrose Path, a commercial grower has a terrific page about all things phlox from a plant breeder's perspective.  HERE.

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