Creating a Butterfly Garden: Natives Are Best

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Creating a Butterfly Garden

By Catmint20906
September 22, 2015

Many of us envision a peaceful paradise where butterflies float, serenely sipping nectar from the beauty we have created. For me, the reality of a butterfly garden is humming, vibrant, and thrilling beyond anything I ever could have imagined. Here are some tips for creating a butterfly garden of your own.

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Name: Kim
Iowa (Zone 5a)
I kill ornamentals... on purpose.
Enjoys or suffers cold winters Spiders! Critters Allowed Birds Houseplants I helped beta test the first seed swap
Region: Nebraska Keeper of Poultry Rabbit Keeper Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Garden Procrastinator Garden Ideas: Level 2
Chillybean
Sep 23, 2015 12:12 PM CST
Thank you for your article. I appreciate your focus on native plants for native insects. We would like to remove all non-natives from our property, but have learned to live with some. They either are food for us or the insects. My family was getting tired of my Dandelion experiments this spring. I went a little overboard... dandelion chowder, for one. Smiling Though I would be thrilled to find a non-chemical way to get rid of all the creeping charlie and catnip. I cannot stand their smell.

What saddens me is our local nursery will not stop using the harmful chemicals. He will grow things for me without, if ask him to. This last spring he started several dozen Butterflyweeds for me without the use of chemicals. He's probably tired of hearing me ask, "Did you use chemicals on that?" He tells me his customers expect perfect looking plants, so he has to use them.

To give him credit, he does not use it on everything. There are plants he starts and they are basically on their own... benign neglect, he calls it. He did this with a batch of Hardy Hibiscus, one of which I bought. Or if he finds ladybugs on his plants, he will put those with plants with aphids.

I am surrounded by cropland, corn and beans. Same thing every year. The ditches and run off areas are left alone, but that's about it. Because of this, we are trying to make a pure habitat for insects and wildlife. We still have a ways to go with nine acres, but it's a start and we already see the benefits. Whereas I used to see grasshoppers and other things as pests, I now see them as life in my little prairie patches. Besides all the Monarchs, we saw more Eastern Tiger Swallowtails than ever before. Strangely though, we had large numbers of bumblebees last year, but very few this year. :(

About the Tropical Milkweed, I've not seen this brought up on the site. Is it really a good Milkweed to plant?
http://news.sciencemag.org/biology/2015/01/plan-save-monarch...

It is supposed to be non-hardy in northern areas, but I've read comments on various sites that say they are coming back up and the seeds spread. (Ohio and New Jersey are states I remember) The USDA doesn't reflect that, though.
http://plants.usda.gov/core/profile?symbol=ASCU
Name: Catmint/Robin
Maryland (Zone 7a)
Region: Mid-Atlantic Butterflies Forum moderator Native Plants and Wildflowers Bee Lover Echinacea
Region: Maryland Garden Photography Cottage Gardener Garden Ideas: Master Level Celebrating Gardening: 2015 The WITWIT Badge
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Catmint20906
Sep 23, 2015 1:21 PM CST
Thanks, Kim-- and thanks for the link to the article. I had heard some rumblings about tropical milkweed, but this is the first good explanation I've read of it! It sounds like it's a concern primarily in regions where the winters aren't cold enough to cause the tropical milkweed to die back each year.

It sounds as though it's fine in regions where it dies back in the winter, as then the parasite is killed.

My tropical milkweed does die back in the winter and then reseeds itself the following spring.

This is a very good thing for people living in warm regions to be aware of!
"One of the pleasures of being a gardener comes from the enjoyment you get looking at other people's yards”
― Thalassa Cruso
Name: Kim
Iowa (Zone 5a)
I kill ornamentals... on purpose.
Enjoys or suffers cold winters Spiders! Critters Allowed Birds Houseplants I helped beta test the first seed swap
Region: Nebraska Keeper of Poultry Rabbit Keeper Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Garden Procrastinator Garden Ideas: Level 2
Chillybean
Sep 23, 2015 7:15 PM CST
You're welcome. Smiling I can understand why people want to plant the Tropical. It has beautiful flowers and is easy to find. I was tempted to get some myself.
Name: Catmint/Robin
Maryland (Zone 7a)
Region: Mid-Atlantic Butterflies Forum moderator Native Plants and Wildflowers Bee Lover Echinacea
Region: Maryland Garden Photography Cottage Gardener Garden Ideas: Master Level Celebrating Gardening: 2015 The WITWIT Badge
Image
Catmint20906
Sep 24, 2015 4:32 AM CST
I think it would die back each winter in Iowa?
"One of the pleasures of being a gardener comes from the enjoyment you get looking at other people's yards”
― Thalassa Cruso
Name: Kim
Iowa (Zone 5a)
I kill ornamentals... on purpose.
Enjoys or suffers cold winters Spiders! Critters Allowed Birds Houseplants I helped beta test the first seed swap
Region: Nebraska Keeper of Poultry Rabbit Keeper Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Garden Procrastinator Garden Ideas: Level 2
Chillybean
Sep 24, 2015 10:28 AM CST
Yes, it would, but there are cases of it not dying like an annual, coming up from root and seed. I believe I mentioned somewhere on this site that our county puts natives in the ditches, so I hope that if our plants spread at all, it will just add to that. Smiling I do not want to bring anything into the area that could compete with the natives. I know it would not spread like in the more tropical areas.

Scroll down to "The Threat of Nonnative Milkweeds".
http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/uw311


Name: Catmint/Robin
Maryland (Zone 7a)
Region: Mid-Atlantic Butterflies Forum moderator Native Plants and Wildflowers Bee Lover Echinacea
Region: Maryland Garden Photography Cottage Gardener Garden Ideas: Master Level Celebrating Gardening: 2015 The WITWIT Badge
Image
Catmint20906
Sep 24, 2015 11:18 AM CST
Why would coming up from seed represent a risk?
"One of the pleasures of being a gardener comes from the enjoyment you get looking at other people's yards”
― Thalassa Cruso
Name: Kim
Iowa (Zone 5a)
I kill ornamentals... on purpose.
Enjoys or suffers cold winters Spiders! Critters Allowed Birds Houseplants I helped beta test the first seed swap
Region: Nebraska Keeper of Poultry Rabbit Keeper Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Garden Procrastinator Garden Ideas: Level 2
Chillybean
Sep 24, 2015 11:46 AM CST
It would be if they went out of control. I do not know that would happen. With the goal we have of converting our pasture to prairie I am afraid to take the risk of an introduced species competing for resources.
Name: Catmint/Robin
Maryland (Zone 7a)
Region: Mid-Atlantic Butterflies Forum moderator Native Plants and Wildflowers Bee Lover Echinacea
Region: Maryland Garden Photography Cottage Gardener Garden Ideas: Master Level Celebrating Gardening: 2015 The WITWIT Badge
Image
Catmint20906
Sep 24, 2015 5:53 PM CST
well, you definitely want diversity in your prairie, that's for sure! Thumbs up

I'm trying to get a meadow going in my back yard...
"One of the pleasures of being a gardener comes from the enjoyment you get looking at other people's yards”
― Thalassa Cruso

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