Ask a Question forum: Are cultivars acceptable? And if so, how do you know which are ok?

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Name: Gary
Cincinnati Ohio (Zone 6a)
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Gschnettler
Aug 5, 2016 8:10 PM CST
Hi. My two objectives for my garden are for it to look nice and to provide a habitat for bees, butterflies and birds.

I just read that animals such as butterflies are very particular about their habitat and that a cultivar of a plant might be off from the original version just enough for them to reject it.

If that's true (and I assume it is), what should I do? Should I avoid all cultivars and just order seeds from wildflower websites? How can I possibly determine which cultivars are close enough to the original and which aren't? I'm sure nature's food chain demands precision as it developed a perfect balance over millions of years. As unique and unusual as some cultivars look to us, they probably look weird and unacceptable to the animal and insect world.

If I have to reject all cultivars then I might as well throw away pretty much all of my plant books and magazines and just stick with the local native selections, which would be extremely limiting, right? I can't have a beautiful garden that doesn't provide a good habitat for the bees and butterflies. I'm trying to help solve the country's bee and butterfly crisis. Please help!
[Last edited by Gschnettler - Aug 5, 2016 9:07 PM (+)]
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Name: Jean
Prairieville, LA (Zone 9a)
Charter ATP Member Plant Identifier The WITWIT Badge Garden Sages Celebrating Gardening: 2015
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Moonhowl
Aug 5, 2016 8:41 PM CST
Hi Gary. I think you will find a good place to start is with the Gardening for Butterflies forum, folks there have a pretty good idea what habitat/plants are magnets for butterflies and bees and beneficials. They are also great photographers and the whole forum is dedicated to good and pretty gardens with bugs.

http://garden.org/forums/view/butterflies/
Name: Daisy
Reno, Nv (Zone 6b)
Not all who wander are lost
Garden Sages Plant Identifier
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DaisyI
Aug 5, 2016 11:09 PM CST
Hi Gary,

Your native bugs, butterflys and animals will prefer the native plants they normally would find out in the forrest but that doesn't mean your entire garden has to be just for them. Plant the plants they prefer and fill in the spaces with the plants you prefer. There is room for all of you.

Remember to add water spots and seeps.

Daisy
Name: Gary
Cincinnati Ohio (Zone 6a)
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Gschnettler
Aug 6, 2016 12:10 PM CST
thanks for the advice. I don't really feel as if I have room for both native and non-native plants. I live in the city and my yard is very small. I think I have about 0.125 acres and the house and driveway take up most of it.

So, if I am considering some cultivar that says, "Long blooming, butterflies love it", does that mean that that type of cultivar is ok?
Name: Jean
Prairieville, LA (Zone 9a)
Charter ATP Member Plant Identifier The WITWIT Badge Garden Sages Celebrating Gardening: 2015
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Moonhowl
Aug 6, 2016 3:30 PM CST
Hi Gary, I searched for butterfly & bee attractive plants. I did not find any specific cultivars that are considered unacceptable. I can tell you that fragrance is very attractive to insects. Bees& butterflies love basil; butterfly larva like dill, and rosemary and milkweed.

The first link is for techniques to attract pollinators aside from just plants.

http://www.gardeners.com/how-to/attracting-butterflies-hummi...

Not knowing your sun/part sun/shade areas, I will post links for all three.

http://www.gardensablaze.com/Companions/CompanionAttract.htm

http://www.sunset.com/garden/flowers-plants/plants-pollinati...

I think this final link will be of great benefit as it is area specific and the plants do not require massive plantings to attract the butterflies, bees and other pollinators.

http://www.xerces.org/pollinator-conservation/plant-lists/

I hope these are of better use to you, but still hope you will join us on the butterfly, bee and bird forum here.
Name: Daisy
Reno, Nv (Zone 6b)
Not all who wander are lost
Garden Sages Plant Identifier
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DaisyI
Aug 7, 2016 3:56 PM CST
Hi again Gary,

My back yard is 20 ft deep and about 60 feet wide. I planted my personal favorites (cactus) in one corner and made the rest of my yard into an Alpine garden. I have 3 tiny ponds with gold fish and miniature water lilies (water for the birds), a bog full of American Pitcher plants (the seep for the butterflys and bees). Plants include miniature Butterfly Bush, 2 types of Milkweed, Beebalm, Giant Blazing Star (a native - the birds and bees love it), coneflower, Shasta Daisy, Stonecrop, Lupine, Daylilies, Allium, Liatris, Delphinium, Dainthus, Yarrow, Bleeding Hearts, Columbine, Corral Bells, Fox Glove, Tiger Lilies, Penstemmon, Yucca, Creeping Thyme and Flax.

I play hostess to Robins, Lesser Gold Finch, House Finch, Sparrows, Doves, California Quail, a Raven, a Red Tailed Hawk, an owl, a few cotton tails and squirrels, lizards, mice...

I tried putting up nesting boxes for the finch but they would rather nest in tightly packed shrubs (tall junipers are popular with them).

Did I tell you I live right in the middle of the city? I didn't worry about planting specific plants but concentrated on plants that I know birds and bugs like. The animals don't seem disappointed with my choices.

Daisy


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[Last edited by DaisyI - Aug 7, 2016 4:04 PM (+)]
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Name: Jean
Prairieville, LA (Zone 9a)
Charter ATP Member Plant Identifier The WITWIT Badge Garden Sages Celebrating Gardening: 2015
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Moonhowl
Aug 7, 2016 4:14 PM CST
You have a really lovely garden, Daisy. Smiling
Name: Karen
NM , AZ (Zone 7b)
Region: New Mexico Region: Arizona Greenhouse Cactus and Succulents Adeniums Garden Art
Plumerias Hibiscus Houseplants Plant Lover: Loves 'em all! Dog Lover Cat Lover
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plantmanager
Aug 7, 2016 4:16 PM CST
Moonhowl said:You have a really lovely garden, Daisy. Smiling


I agree All of the critters must be very happy there, Daisy.

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Name: Daisy
Reno, Nv (Zone 6b)
Not all who wander are lost
Garden Sages Plant Identifier
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DaisyI
Aug 7, 2016 4:19 PM CST
Thank you Jean and Karen.

We had our annual Orchid Society Greenhouse and Garden tour on Saturday. One elderly lady looked over the yard and announced "Well, it's not too weedy". That was it. Not too weedy. I thanked her... Smiling
[Last edited by DaisyI - Aug 7, 2016 4:20 PM (+)]
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Name: Jean
Prairieville, LA (Zone 9a)
Charter ATP Member Plant Identifier The WITWIT Badge Garden Sages Celebrating Gardening: 2015
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Moonhowl
Aug 7, 2016 4:23 PM CST
What an accolade...knowing the investment of time, sweat, and hard work, not to mention cost...SHEESH.

You showed great constraint Whistling
Name: Karen
NM , AZ (Zone 7b)
Region: New Mexico Region: Arizona Greenhouse Cactus and Succulents Adeniums Garden Art
Plumerias Hibiscus Houseplants Plant Lover: Loves 'em all! Dog Lover Cat Lover
Image
plantmanager
Aug 7, 2016 4:27 PM CST
We had our annual Orchid Society Greenhouse and Garden tour on Saturday. One elderly lady looked over the yard and announced "Well, it's not too weedy". That was it. Not too weedy. I thanked her... Smiling [/quote]

Not everyone understands this type of garden. You did what I'd do, thank her and secretly feel sorry for her! I'd love to see your garden in person.

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Name: Rick R.
near Minneapolis, MN zone 4a
I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Garden Sages The WITWIT Badge Garden Photography Region: Minnesota Plant Identifier
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Leftwood
Aug 7, 2016 4:48 PM CST
"Weedy" gardens are what nature likes best. You'll find more natural fauna there than in any well-tended, perfect looking landscapes.
Name: Daisy
Reno, Nv (Zone 6b)
Not all who wander are lost
Garden Sages Plant Identifier
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DaisyI
Aug 7, 2016 4:54 PM CST
That's the funny part. My garden is incredibly over-tended. Not a leaf out of place, not a 'weed' in sight. Smiling
Name: Dirt
(Zone 5b)
Plant Lover: Loves 'em all! Garden Photography Bee Lover Region: Utah Photo Contest Winner: 2014 Celebrating Gardening: 2015
Photo Contest Winner: 2015 Photo Contest Winner: 2016
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dirtdorphins
Aug 7, 2016 6:24 PM CST
Nice Daisy! I'll bet the critters are pleased Smiling
Rolling on the floor laughing "not too weedy" is a great compliment from an elder of the Orchid Society I imagine

Gary, relax
Your two objectives as stated are perfectly compatible. Absolutely, you can provide an attractive habitat!
Solving the country's crisis...no promises there...

Bees and birds and a whole slew of others that go along with them are very adaptable. Butterflies do have more exacting requirements for specific host plants on which to lay their eggs, and then for the caterpillars to eat (so if you want butterfly eggs and cats, you will need the host plants), but they will nectar from a wide variety of plants, 'cultivars' included.

It doesn't have to be an either/or kinda thing with native plants vs non, but if you want to go strictly with natives, go for it!
Personally, I cannot span the feeding season with natives alone, nor do I like to limit myself any more than I already am in my environmental constraints. And, most of my 'cultivars' (whether I know their name or not) have proven themselves acceptable so far Thumbs up
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