Like many of you, we’ve been spending plenty of time outside in our garden, dreaming and scheming of how to turn our yards into an oasis. This summer we’re hoping to try our hand at creating a magical butterfly garden!
As David Suzuki says “Creating and restoring butterfly habitats offsets what development, roadside mowing or wetland drainage have destroyed.”
So this week we’re featuring the beautiful, flower power Butterfly bush! This fast-growing deciduous shrub is identified by it’s long, spiked trusses – the bloom from summer to fall. Sometimes referred to as a “Summer Lilac” it gets its name for being a great source of nectar (food) for our winged-friends.
Here are some things to consider when deciding if this plant will work in your landscape:
- Plant Type– Shrub
- Sun Exposure- Full Sun (require a minimum of 8 hours of bright sunlight)
- Soil– Fertile, well-drained soil
- Planting Time– Spring or Fall before frost
- Bloom Time– Summer, Fall
- Flower Color– Purple
- Hardiness Zones– 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10
- Special Features– Attracts Birds, Attracts Butterflies
Caring for a Butterfly Bush:
- Water during the growth period and sparingly otherwise. In the summer, when rainfall is less than 1 inch per week- water.
- Avoid fertilizing butterfly bush as this will lead to more leaves and less flowers
- Deadhead to encourage new shoots and flower buds.
- Each spring, apply a thin layer of compost and mulch to retain moisture and control weeds.
- In winter spread mulch up to 6 inches deep around the trunk to nurture it through the cold weather
- New blooms show up on new wood, even if there is no die-back, cut them back to the ground every spring.
- Even where winters are mild enough for the stems to survive, prune severely to stimulate abundant growth on which flowers are borne.
When incorporating into a Butterfly Garden, keep in mind:
- This shrub is not a “host plant” for butterflies in that it does not support butterfly reproduction and lifecycle.
- Caterpillars do not feed on butterfly bushes; rather, it only provides nectar to adult butterflies.
- Be sure to add native host plants such as milkweed, aster, and dill if you want the butterflies to stay.
Looking to attract a certain butterfly?
- Tiger Swallowtail like lilacs or bee balm; nearby willow, alder, aspen or apple trees can host larva.
- Painted Ladies like aster, cosmos or zinnia; host plants include lupines, native thistle, mallow or hollyhock.
- Monarchs like milkweed, lilac, goldenrod and cosmos; host plants include the milkweed family.