Butterfly Garden

Friday, May 5th, 2017 by Jenny Watts
    • Tomatoes and peppers can be set out now. Choose new hybrids or heirlooms for the flavors that you love.
    • Azaleas, camellias and rhododendrons provide lots of beautiful flowers for the shady spring garden. Choose now.
    • Plant strawberry plants now for delicious strawberry pie this summer.
    • Flower seeds can be sown directly in the garden now. Cosmos, marigolds and zinnias will give you beautiful flowers all summer.
    • Feed roses to encourage a beautiful display of color later this month. Treat plants to prevent insect and disease problems.

Butterfly Garden

One of the joys of summer is watching the butterflies visit your garden. You’ll enjoy them even more by planting flowers that they like to visit.

The main food of adult butterflies is flower nectar. Some flowers contain more nectar, and are more appealing to butterflies than others.

Nectar plants should be of various heights, because smaller species of butterflies often stay low, while larger species often prefer to stay high when feeding. When planning a garden, plant several of each flower species to attract butterflies and nectar bearing flowers that bloom in sequence over a long season.

Nectar plants can be perennials, annuals or shrubs. Lilacs and the native Ceanothus are among the earliest plants which will attract butterflies. Butterfly bush (Buddleia davidii) has graceful plumes of purple flowers that bloom in the summer. Bluebeard (Caryopteris) blooms from late summer into the fall with its lovely sky-blue flowers.

There are many perennials that provide nectar. Spring-bloomers include purple rock cress (Aubrieta), chives and forget-me-nots. There are numerous summer-blooming perennials that attract butterflies. The daisy family provides a lot of them with Gloriosa daisies (Rudbeckia), coreopsis, Shasta daisies, blanket flower (Gaillardia) and purple coneflower (Echinacea). Sunflowers, with their many color choices, will give you some tall plants for the back of the border.

Other good choices are lavender, milkweed (Asclepias), pincushion flowers (Scabiosa), bee balm (Monarda), and summer phlox. Yarrows (Achillea), catnip, verbena and red valerian (Centranthus) also attract butterflies.

You can fill in the flower bed with annuals like marigolds, ageratum, cosmos, heliotrope, verbena and zinnias. These can give you varying heights and flowers over a long season.

For the end of the season, asters like Michaelmas daisy and showy sedum (Sedum spectabilis) will provide nectar for the last generation of butterflies.

There are many more plants which are attractive to butterflies and part of the fun of ‘butterfly gardening’ is experimenting and seeing who comes to dinner.

Although nectar sources alone may attract butterflies, only the planting of caterpillar host plants defines true butterfly gardening. They provide a site for the butterfly to lay eggs and also a food source for the emerging caterpillars. In most cases, they won’t be interested in your shrubs or flowers. They would rather eat plants like clover, plantain, parsley and dill or the leaves of birch, poplar and willow trees. Be prepared for heavy munching on your host plants!

Use insecticides sparingly because most garden insecticides can kill the caterpillar stages of the insects. Adult butterflies also can be killed by resting on insecticide-treated surfaces.

You will also want some still water for butterflies to drink. A birdbath can often give a butterfly a necessary drink. Swallowtails will often congregate around wet gravel.

The butterfly garden is wonderful fun for kids and adults alike.

Beautiful Buddleias

Wednesday, April 27th, 2016 by Jenny Watts
    • Attract birds to your yard with bird feeders. Delightful gold finches will be happy to visit your thistle feeders, and rufous-sided tohees will visit seed feeders.
    • Turn in cover crops now and you will be ready to plant your summer garden in two or three weeks.
    • Plant summer-flowering bulbs now. Glads, dahlias, callas, cannas and lilies will bloom this summer if planted soon.
    • Fertilize established roses now and begin spraying them for insect and disease problems. Neem oil is a very effective, natural spray that works against both insects and diseases.
    • Tomatoes and peppers can be set out now, but be ready to cover them if cold weather returns.

Bring butterflies to your garden with Buddleias

Buddleias, commonly known as butterfly bushes, are fine shrubs for the garden. They can be used in the flower border or as the focal point for a large area. They are hardy and easy to grow. During their long flowering period, buddleias bear large, dense panicles of delicately fragrant flowers in stunning colors.

These eye-catching plants really do attract butterflies. When the blossoms are open, you can be sure that butterflies will be abundant. Monarchs, swallowtails, fritillaries and many other nectar drinkers are attracted to the fragrant flower clusters. Hummingbirds also visit buddleias, so plant them where you can enjoy them up close.

Buddleias can be used in many different ways. Dwarf types, growing 3 to 4 feet tall and wide, are perfect for patio containers and small planting areas. Compact varieties, growing to 6 feet tall, are nice in the perennial or mixed border, for small gardens or for large containers. Larger types, which grow 8 to 12 feet tall, do best in the background or as part of a tall shrub border. Also called summer lilac, the larger shrubs can be used for a colorful hedge.

These are very forgiving plants. They take almost any well-drained soil, and can stand considerable drought. Although they flower best in full sun, they will also bloom in light or filtered shade.

Buddleia davidii and its cultivars are large, wide-spreading, open shrubs. They work best as background shrubs. The flowers come in long clusters at the ends of the branches beginning in June and continuing into the fall. Colors range from the true pink of ‘Pink Delight’ to wine-purple of ‘Royal Red’ and dark purple of ‘Black Knight.’

If these shrubs are too big for your yard, consider the ‘Nanho’ varieties. These versatile buddleias grow to half the height of the species with smaller leaves and flower clusters. Some special varieties have been developed including ‘Lochinch’ which has lavender flowers and silvery gray leaves. It looks nice with pastel flowers such as asters and summer phlox. ‘Empire Blue’ has deep violet-blue blooms on plants that reach 5 feet tall.

The new Buzz™ hybrids are true dwarfs at only 4 feet tall. They cover themselves with spikes of fragrant flowers in lavender, magenta, purple or white. Feed and water container plants regularly, and deadhead faded flowers to prolong the flowering season.

Buddleias bloom on new growth so they can be pruned to control size and shape without affecting the flowering. They can be pruned down to 12 to18-inch stubs from which they will grow many new arching branches, that will have larger flowers than if they had not been pruned. Deadheading during the flowering season will induce maximum flowering.

Butterfly bushes are a little unruly-looking so they may not have a place in a formal garden. But given sunshine and room to grow, they are a wonderful addition to the yard.

Butterfly Bushes

Wednesday, June 3rd, 2015 by Jenny Watts
    • Calibrachoa, or Million Bells, look like miniature petunias and come in many unusual shades and blends. Plant them in full sun for a profusion of flowers from spring to frost.
    • Mulch blueberry plants with aged sawdust and feed with cottonseed meal or an acid fertilizer.
    • When you plant your vegetable garden, why not grow a little extra to donate to the Willits Food Bank this summer.
    • Set out zinnias, cosmos, impatiens and begonias for lots of colorful flowers all summer long.
    • Star jasmine is an evergreen vine that prefers some shade. The fragrant blossoms fill the June air with their sweet scent.

Bring butterflies to your garden with Buddleias

Buddleias, commonly known as butterfly bushes, are fine shrubs for the garden. They have large, fragrant, colorful flowers that attract a flutter of butterflies into your summer garden. Their long summer bloom gives them their other common name, summer lilac.

These eye-catching plants are loved by butterflies. When the blossoms are open, you can be sure that butterflies will be abundant. Monarchs, swallowtails, fritillaries and many other nectar drinkers are attracted to the fragrant flower clusters. Hummingbirds also visit Buddleias, so plant them where you can enjoy them up close.

Buddleias can be used in many different ways. Compact types are nice in the perennial or mixed border, for small gardens or for large containers. Larger types, which grow 8-12 feet tall, do best in the background or as part of a tall shrub border.

These are very forgiving plants. They take almost any well-drained soil, and can stand considerable drought. Although they flower best in full sun, they will also bloom in light or filtered shade.

Standard Buddleias grow as wide-spreading, open shrubs. They work best as background plants. The flowers come in 6-8 inch long clusters at the ends of the branches beginning in July and continue until frost.

Colors range from the true pink of ‘Pink Delight’ to wine-purple of ‘Royal Red’ and dark purple of ‘Black Knight.’ The unusual variety ‘Harlequin’ has bright, variegated leaves and reddish-purple flower spikes. It grows 6-7 feet tall.

Butterfly bushes are a little unruly-looking so they may not have a place in a formal garden. But given sunshine and room to grow, they are a wonderful addition to the yard. They can be used in the flower border or as the focal point for a large open area. They are hardy and easy to grow.

Since standard Buddleias are too big for many gardens, a number of new dwarf varieties are now available. Buddleias davidii ‘Nanho’ grows to only 6 feet tall with smaller leaves and flower clusters.

A new series called Buddleia Buzz™ grows only 3-4 feet tall. They are excellent in containers and bloom over a long season, bringing butterflies and hummingbirds to your patio or deck. They come in all shades of purple. Buddleia ‘Dwarf Snappy Blue’ is another dwarf variety that grows 3 feet tall and 4 feet wide.

In addition, Buddleias make good cut flowers, are mostly allergy free, and are drought tolerant once established. And deer generally leave them alone.

Buddleias bloom on new growth so they can be pruned to control size and shape without affecting the flowering. Deadheading through the summer will produce maximum bloom.

Incidentally, Buddleia is sometimes spelled Buddleja, but both are pronounced “BUD-lee-ah.” Also, they can be invasive and reseed freely in some climates, but they are not known to be invasive in California. Buddleias will also attract bees that will pollinate other plants in your garden.

Don’t confuse butterfly bush plants with butterfly weed (Asclepias tuberosa). Butterfly weed is a type of milkweed and serves as a host for the caterpillars of monarch butterflies as well as a nectar source. It is a perennial that dies down to the ground in winter.

Plant colorful Buddleias in your garden and enjoy the beautiful butterflies that visit them.