butterfly/humming bird flowers - Knowledgebase Question

Rome, Ge
Question by kipownsme
February 21, 2010
I live in Rome Ga. zone 7 would like to have flowers that will attract butterfly's and humming birds, any suggestions ?? Thanks Randy

Answer from NGA
February 21, 2010


Getting more butterflies to visit and live in your garden is easy; you plant what they like. The most important plants are called ?larval host plants.? They are the ones butterflies need to lay their eggs on and that the hatched caterpillars (larvae) need to eat. You see, most butterflies have very specific needs and will only lay eggs on one type or family of plants. Monarchs, for example, only lay their eggs on milkweeds and related plants. Although adult butterflies will visit lots of flowers for nectar, they will pass over a garden overflowing with flowers to get to one of their larval host plants. Finding these plants is essential for them to reproduce, and butterflies will travel long distances to get to them. It is a matter of survival.

Here are some common butterflies of Georgia and some of the larval host plants they need:

Monarch ? milkweeds, including butterflyweed, milkweed vines (Matelea);
Spicebush Swallowtail ? spicebush, sassafras;
Tiger Swallowtail ? tulip poplar, green ash, white ash, sweet bay, wild cherry;
Gulf Fritillary ? mollypop or maypop, green passionflower or other passionflowers;
Long-Tailed Skipper ? members of the bean family;
Silver-Spotted Skipper ? black locust and other members of the bean family;
Zebra Swallowtail ? pawpaw;
Pipevine Swallowtail ? pipevine, snakeroot;
Buckeye ? broad-leaf plantain, ruellia, gerardia;
Red-Spotted Purple ? wild cherry;
Snout Butterfly ? hackberry;
Hackberry Butterfly ? hackberry, elms;
Giant Swallowtail ? Hercules club, members of the citrus family;
Black Swallowtail ? members of the carrot family including dill, fennel, parsley and Queen Anne?s lace;
Painted Lady and American Painted Lady ? thistle;
Pearly Crescentspot ? native asters;
Mourning Cloak ? willows, elms;
Gray Hairstreak ? beans, clover;
Olive Hairstreak ? red cedar;
Henry?s Elfin ? blueberry.

The second thing is to have lots of ?nectar plants.? These are plants with flowers that adult butterflies can feed on. The best nectar plants have a large flower head or cluster of flowers that the butterfly can land on and hold to as it goes from individual flower to flower. A gust of wind could blow them off course and it would take a lot of time and energy to get back to feeding, so they like to stay put and feed. Here are some favorite nectar plants that adult butterflies like: ironweed, butterflyweed, joe-pye weed, summer phlox, thrift, buttonbush, butterfly bush, abelia, lilac, lantana, liatris, vitex, native asters, goldenrod, sunflower, tithonia or Mexican sunflower, purple coneflower and zinnia.

Most of the butterfly attracting plants will also attract hummingbirds. Enjoy your garden!

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