NECTAR RICH It’s easy to increase the number and variety of butterflies you see in your garden. Remember the Swallowtails, Monarchs, Skippers and Emperors we chased as youths? Many natural butterfly habitats have been lost to human development, but we can create habitats in our own backyards! The secret lies in the nectar-rich plants the butterflies need for food.
WHAT TO PLANT To ensure a steady stream of visitors, you need to provide food for the beginning, middle and end of the season. Here is our short list of ideal feeding stations, starting in the spring and running through fall. As you get started with butterflies, add a wider variety of foodstuffs; different species of butterflies have different preferences for nectar. Mass plantings help as well—groups of plants are easier for butterflies to find than a single specimen.
- Salvias en masse offer brilliant strands of purple. A mature Salvia pumps out an abundance of nectar—a great start to the season.
- Buddlieas are called Butterfly Bush for good reason. They leaf out very late in the season, but offer big brushes of nectar when they bloom. Everyone enjoys their sweet scent!
- Monardas, or Cardinal Flower, are the spikey-topped flowers that supply nectar in the summer.
- Asclepias, or Butterfly Weed, is a traditional wildflower of North America—another summer feeding station.
- Tall Sedums, like ‘Xenox’ and ‘Autumn Fire’, wind up the autumn with heavy doses of nectar.