Expert gardeners share tips for planting butterfly gardens | Environment

Olivia Blanchard has seen less and less butterflies in Victoria in recent years.

Blanchard, an expert on native plants at the intersection, says butterflies are being driven away by pesticides, farms, commercial developments, and new residential communities that prioritize lawns over native plants.

“We need vegetables and homes in our lives, so it’s a fine line here,” said Blanchard.

A garden full of native plants such as milkweed, which is both a food source and nursery for monarch butterflies, benefits the butterfly’s quality of life on the Crossroads, Blanchard said.

“Native butterflies need native plants to survive,” Blanchard said.

Blanchard and Janet McCrea of ​​the Victoria Master Gardeners Association said butterflies are very particular about where they lay their eggs and feed on nectar.

“They prefer flat, open flowers, so they have the best place to land,” McCrea said. “They tend to favor red, orange, and yellow colors the most.”

When looking for flowers for their larvae, painted female butterflies prefer thistles, but the Admiral is a fan of nettles.

For those who want butterflies to flutter around their garden, McCrea said there are two approaches gardeners can take when growing a habitat from scratch.

A more economically viable method, McCrea says, is to plant nectar seeds between November and January to host the plants. Flowers bloom in spring.

“Buying seeds is cheaper than buying plants,” said McCrea.

If a gardener is creating a butterfly paradise for the first time, McCrea said these nectars and host plants should be considered a sanctuary.

  • Gaillardia pulchella, also known as Indian blanket flower, is a red and yellow nectar plant known to be drought tolerant.
  • Tall blue spiked salvias are 3 to 9 inches tall. Attracts hairy butterflies.
  • Plains coreopsis that attracts butterflies with its yellow petals and maroon center
  • Bluebonnets, the state flower of Texas, are home to hairstreaks and elfin butterfly larvae. It usually blooms in February.
  • According to McCrea, it’s a “magnet” of blue mist flowers, monarch butterflies and painted female butterflies.
  • Black-eyed Susan, host plant for Border Patch and Checkerspot butterflies.

McCrea recommended putting cardboard in the butterfly garden. Because cardboard can kill weeds before they harm other plants.

If you want to bypass the plant growth process, gardeners can purchase pollinators at plant sales.

“Push the plants into the soil and voila, you have a butterfly garden,” says McCrea.

Butterfly gardeners should organize their spaces by placing smaller plants in the front and taller plants like shrubby rockrose in the back, McCrea said.

“It’s also a good idea to place the Three of a Kind, Five of a Kind, and Seven of a Kind together so the butterflies don’t look too hard for the right place to pollinate,” McCrea said.

A gardener’s goal is to make nectar available to butterflies all year round, so just having flowers bloom in the same season may not be the right strategy, McCrea said.

The frost that crossed the crossroads in late December killed the flowers this winter, but McCrea says the butterfly-favorite plants will bloom later this year.

Local growers hope to rebound after December freeze depletes produce

“The bluebonnets are only a month away from flowering,” said McCrea.

Blanchard expects many native plants to bloom in March and April.

“Once the freezing happened, everything turned black,” said Blanchard. “Usually the leaves fall off before winter, but freezing occurred when the leaves did.”

Leo Bertucci is a member of the Report for America corps, Energy and Environment, Victoria Advocate.

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