Bringing in the Butterflies
Vol. 2 Issue 2, Spring 1997
By Barbara Holland
After a close call with pesticides and habitat destruction, butterflies are coming back to our gardens and cheering our views again. Bribe them to keep coming with plantings of what they’re looking for. Every flowering garden, wild or tame, looks better under a flutter of colored wings.
Hackberry trees, happy here in Loudoun County, bring the pretty and sociable hackberry butterflies that will ride on your shoulders as you walk around the yard and sit on your knee on the patio. Other butterfly-friendly trees are cherry, paw-paw, and sassafras. Our own native spicebush thrives here in hedgerows, gardens, and the edges of woods, and is recommended as a food resource for a variety of other wildlife too. It’s an amiable shrub, tolerates shade, survives drought, forgives you quickly for cutting it back when it gets out of hand, and brightens the landscape with red berries in the fall.
Ironweed, that sturdy roadside perennial, is a handsome late-summer sight with its dark purple flower heads covered in yellow swallowtails. For your herbaceous plantings and naturalized areas, choose a spot protected from the strong winds that gets full sun for at least half a day. Check plants and seeds for their blooming times to make sure you’ll have something to offer from spring through fall. Recommended are asters, black-eyed susans, butterfly weed, milkweed, violets and wild bergamot, all natives here, plus a long list of others, from Achillea (yarrow) to the zinnia Tropical Snow. Remember, don’t use any pesticides or insecticides anywhere near your butterfly buffet.
Want to learn more about Butterflies? Listen to our podcast…A Bit About Butterflies.