Tuesday, August 23, 2016

The Bountiful Butterfly Garden
Created and maintained by The Putnam County Master Gardeners


A butterfly garden is a garden with a special emphasis on supporting and encouraging butterflies.  Many people have heard of the recent decline in butterfly populations, due to several reasons, including loss of habitat due to increased population, indiscriminate use of harmful pesticides, and climate change.  A concerted effort is underway by many people to provide increased food supplies, safe habitat, and cover and food for the larvae and butterflies. The garden should provide host plants for the caterpillars and nectar plants for the adults.  An example would be 10 milkweeds and 10 nectar plants including asters and goldenrods.  Butterflies also like flat rocks to rest on and wet sand or puddles to drink water and obtain minerals.   It is actually easy and fun to create a butterfly garden and a great way to introduce children to the beauty of nature and the value of garden.

What are good plants for a butterfly garden? An example of plants can be found in our butterfly garden, and include the following:

Achillea  ‘Coronation Gold’ –Yarrow (Perennial) Yellow blooms from June – September. Good nectar plant.
Achillea ‘Strawberry Seduction’ - Yarrow (Perennial) strawberry-red flowers, each with a tiny yellow eye bloom from early summer to early fall.  A nectar source.
Asclepias syriaca - Common Milkweed – A drought tolerant perennial plant which functions as a food source for  Monarch larvae and also a nectar source for numerous butterflies. Fragrant, pinkish -purple flowers appear over a long bloom period from late spring well into summer.
Asclepias incarnata Rose or Swamp Milkweed - (Perennial) Flowers are very attractive to butterflies as a nectar source and food for the larval stage of Monarch butterflies. Pink to mauve flowers bloom July-August.
Asclepias tuberosa ‘Hello Yellow’ Butterfly Weed- (Perennial) Flowers are a nectar source for many butterflies and leaves are a food source for monarch butterfly larvae (caterpillars).  Hello Yellow has yellow flowers and tuberose has orange flowers.
Aster novi-belgii ‘Alert’ (Perennial) Densely packed clusters of deep purplish-red flowers bloom from late summer into fall and are a great nectar source when many plants are not blooming.
Buddleia davidii ‘Buzz Purple’ Butterfly Bush – (perennial shrub) A dwarf butterfly bush that is 1/3 the size of standard butterfly bushes. The deep purple flowers provide nectar for butterflies from summer through fall.
Echinacea tennesseenis Tennessee Purple Coneflower – Native to Tennessee. A perennial flower originally found only in cedar glades in central Tennessee. Echinacea are a favorite nectar source for many butterflies. Purple rays with coppery-orange center cones bloom from June – August.
Echinacea purpurea Purple Coneflower ‘Double Decker’ - Second-year plants produce a large magenta-pink daisies with a second smaller flower produced on top of each dark brown central cone. Blooming starts in midsummer and continues for weeks. A perennial nectar plant.
Echinacea purpurea 'Rubinstern' ‘Ruby Star’  (perennial – nectar source)– Flowers are carmine red to purple rays with bronze-brown cones bloom June – August.  
Echinacea purpurea ‘Magnus” - has broad non-drooping petals of rosy purple surrounding a dark cone. Blooms June- August.
Echinacea purpurea 'Balsomsed' Sombrero Salsa Red- (perennial nectar source) A compact, upright coneflower with sturdy stems that do not need staking. Orange-red rays with orange brown center cone bloom from June- August.
Eupatorium maculatum ‘Phantom’ Joe Pye Weed –A a perennial with a compact growth habit compared to the species makes it an ideal choice for smaller gardens; features fluffy plumes of lavender-purple flowers. A great nectar source for butterflies.
Foeniculum vulgare  ‘Rubrum’ Bronze Fennel   a perennial herb but typically grown as an annual. The herb has attractive purplish-tinted foliage and yellow summer flowers which are attractive to butterflies. Fennel is also a host plant for certain swallowtail butterflies.
Lantana camara ‘Bante cheriasun’ Lantana Bandana Cherry Sunrise (Annual)  A nectar source for many butterfly species. its flowers combine 4 colors: yellow centers, followed by rings of apricot, pink, and an outer circle of bright crimson.
Liatris ‘Blazing Star’ a perennial native wildflower nectar plant. Plants form a low clump of grassy looking leaves, bearing tall spikes of bright magenta-purple flowers in July-August.
Petroselinum crispum var. neapolitanum Flat leaf Italian Parsley is a biennial herb that is typically grown as an annual. It is a host plant for Swallowtail butterflies.
Zinnias ‘Profusion Varieties’ in Coral, Pink , Orange, and Yellow and ‘ Zahara Red’ (Annual) Highly prolific bloomers, each variety in the Zinnia Profusion series produces masses of 2" semi-double flowers on mid-height plants. Blooms all summer long.
Tagetes patula French Marigolds an annual plant with Yellow, orange, red and bicolor flowers that adult butterfly love as a nectar source.
Our garden has been certified as a ‘Monarch Waystation’. Further information on how you can certify your yard can be found at http://www.monarchwatch.org/waystations/certify.html.  
Putnam County Master Gardeners are ready to assist and answer any questions.  Good luck with Butterfly Gardening!

Documents on Butterfly Gardening  

Click on links below to open in your browser or download

 The Bountiful Butterfly Garden Handout
North American Butterfly Association Central Tennessee Butterfly Plants 
UT Extension Publication PB1636 BUtterfly Gardening

Monarch Waystation Information

Monarch Waystation Guide 
Monarch Waystation Requirements 

For more information go to the Putnam County Master Gardener website at: http://www.pcmg-tn.org/