Butterfly gardening is one of the most popular types of flower gardening, and one of the most popular nectar plants for adults is Lantana camara. But research has shown that butterflies can be highly selective about which varieties they visit, and of the many varieties of lantana, it's not clear which are most attractive to butterflies.
Researchers at Auburn University in Alabama set up an experiment to find out. They grew 16 plants each of 10 different Lantana camara varieties in blocks at their trial grounds to see if there were significant differences in variety preference. They collected data in August and again in October on the number and duration of adult visits and the species of butterflies. They found the varieties 'New Gold', and 'Radiation' had significantly more visits in late summer and fall than other varieties. The researchers suggest that flower color is the trait that attracts the butterflies.
For more information on this research, go to: Southern Nursery Association.
Article published on June 23, 2008.