By R. Lewis
“April Showers Bring May Flowers” and we got a good shower Friday, April 30. The soaking rain of around two inches is the best thing that could have happened for our plants that are still suffering from the “Big Freeze,” and for all of the replacement plants that have been planted since then. Last week I mentioned adding both “annual” color plants as well as some brightly colored “perennial” plants back into my backyard landscape which is like many other yards – thinned out after the freeze damage clean up.
There are some very colorful perennial plants that practically bloom from spring through fall that will both add lots of color and will help draw in butterflies into the landscape such as Blue Plumbago, Lantana (of which there are many colors), Penta (also many colors), and these mixed with just a few annual plants like the popular Vinca (Cora) will do much for adding bright colors to the landscape and for drawing the interest of butterflies as well. If you are interested in drawing more butterflies to your garden, then you will need to add specific “nectar plants” and “food plants” that will provide exactly what many varieties of butterflies need for their survival and to keep them in your garden longer.
Some of the best butterfly attractors to your garden are mainly a large list of native plants that may not have the “razzle-dazzle” of bright colors like the Plumbago and Penta have that were mentioned earlier, but instead provide the essential needs of food and home for nearly all butterfly species. The list of plants are long, but I will give you the names of easier to find plant varieties that will probably be found in the local independent nurseries.
There is a native groundcover that butterflies are attracted to by the name of Texas Frog Fruit. Another plant that spreads across the ground and sometime over other plants is Gregg’s Mistflower (Eupatorium) and a close relative the Padre Island Mistflower that grows out in the sand dunes. Both varieties bloom a delicate blue flower that looks like the popular bedding plant “Ageratum.” Some other plants that provide nectar are the Scarlet Sage, Blue & Red PorterWeed, Native Turk Cap, Goldenrod and the Texas Sage (Cenizo). As for larger plants and trees, like Pride of Barbados, Fiddlewood, Tenaza, Anacua and Wild Olive all attract butterflies because of the nectar they provide.
Another group of plants are known as “Food Plants” which the butterflies at their larval stage like to eat are as follows; Dill, Passion Vine, Frog Fruit, Torch Weed and Mexican Milkweed (Asclepias Curassavica). The list of plants is too long to cover on both the nectar and host plants so I encourage you to look these up on the internet and read some very interesting information on butterflies. The varieties that I mentioned are only some of the plants available to find and I suggest you visit an independent nursery for these varieties.
Next week, it’s time to start to make a decision on the large Norfolk Island Pines. I have seen new green growth on some of the trees, but is it enough to save these beauties. See you next week.