Butterfly gardening peaks during summer

John Young, Gill, Daniel J., Owings, Allen D.  |  6/12/2009 2:03:04 AM

Sustainable Landscape News From LaHouse Distributed 06/12/09

By LSU AgCenter Horticulturists Dan Gill, Allen Owings and John Young

Summer is here, and that means butterfly gardening season is upon us. Bedding plants and herbaceous perennials are in full bloom attracting butterflies to our home landscapes.

With more interest than ever in home gardening and landscaping, plus habitat awareness, environmental concerns and the need for more insect pollinators, folks are making more efforts to attract butterflies to their yards.

What do we need to attract butterflies? Food, water, shelter and a place to reproduce are important. Shallow drinking water sources are needed, such as a bird bath with pebbles or moist sand. Butterflies love old vegetable and fruit debris. Adult butterflies also like sun-basking areas, such as stones or boards. Nectar and larva plants butterflies like include annual bedding plants, herbaceous perennials, native trees, native shrubs, vines and even plants like our popular evergreen azaleas.

Bedding plants for butterfly gardening include vincas, impatiens, petunias, sunflowers, zinnias, and salvia. Good herbaceous perennials are rudbeckia, coreopsis, daylily, verbena, lantana, cassia, gaillardia, milkweed and cuphea. All species of citrus are great if you are in need of an evergreen tree in your butterfly garden. Oaks, ash, pawpaw, mayhaws, parsley hawthorn, elms and hackberries are good native deciduous trees. Evergreen shrubs for butterfly gardening include ligustrum and azaleas.

Common butterfly families and their members include milkweeds (monarchs), longwings (gulf fritillary), brushfoots (buckeye, viceroy and American painted lady), hackberry/goatweed (tawny emperor), skippers (dusty wings and skippers), swallowtails (tiger, zebra, eastern black), sulphurs/whites (sulphurs, Southern dog face), hairstreaks (gray and red-banded), snouts/beaks (snouts) and satyrs (Carolina satyrs).

Come to LaHouse in Baton Rouge to see our efforts to attract butterflies and other sustainable landscape practices in action. The home and landscape resource center is located near the intersection of Burbank Drive and Nicholson Drive (Louisiana Highway 30) in Baton Rouge across the street from the new LSU baseball stadium. Go online to Louisiana Yards and Neighborhoods for additional information.

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Editor: Mark Claesgens

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