by Ana Morlier, The Crazy Plant Lady
Butterfly Bushes: What’s the Buzz About?
As I was researching the butterfly bush (rather excitedly), I came across a fact that stopped this article in its tracks. It turns out that the butterfly bush (Buddleia davidii) was imported from China. Because of this, there are no native species in the U.S. to keep its population and growth under control. In other words, it’s crazy invasive. It can be toxic to some organisms, and spreads aggressively, not allowing other plant life to grow. What incarnation? I don’t think any’bud’y saw that coming. So, I turned my eyes toward beneficial plants that host butterflies!
As much as flowering plants can be beneficial to pollinators, most don’t “host” life, especially for butterflies. This means they don’t support the life cycle of butterflies (growth, reproduction, etc.).
I feel like the milkweed plant (asclepias) is a pretty common and well-known host plant. However, I never really knew that there were flowering varieties as beautiful as the ones listed below. Most milkweed plants are also (surprisingly) deer resistant! They are especially appealing to monarch butterflies. Other organisms, such as honey bees and hummingbirds, also flock to these plants.
Asclepias Tuberosa: Fiery orange flowers, any variety of sun. Tolerant of dry, drought-like conditions.
Asclepias Tuberosa (Clay form): Lighter orange flowers, full sun, crown-shaped flowers, any soil condition.
Asclepias Hello Yellow: Don’t you just love the name? Golden flowers, full sun.
Asclepias Incarnata Cinderella: Also known as Swamp Milkweed. Pink flowers, requires full sun, claimed to have a vanilla scent.
Asclepias Incarnata: Also known as Ice Ballet (how majestic!). Tiny, delicate white flowers. Any variety of sun. Fragrant.
Common herbs and vegetables can also host butterflies, including alfalfa, rue, parsley, fennel, dill, and sunflowers. (Known to attract painted lady and black swallowtail butterflies).
Hopefully, this article will encourage you to put the “petal” to the metal (as in your shovel), and start a new, beneficial home for butterflies!
*Credit to The Farmer’s Almanac, Butterfly Identification, Maryland Manual On-line, Finding Sea Turtles, Butterfly Lady, Punpedia.
Photo Courtesy of Britannica ImageQuest, Encyclopædia Britannica