Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Do You Have A Butterfly Garden?

Many of us have butterfly gardens without realizing it!  How can this be, I didn't work on planting a butterfly garden. 

There are even season categories for the plantings used for attracting butterflies. 

                              Allium Purple Sensation                       

These are just two of the early season butterfly magnets!
Some other early perennials are Arabis, Dame's Rocket and Forget-me-nots.
Salvia May Night

Walker's Low Nepeta

The majority of butterfly perennials we have in our gardens are classified as mid-season.

My Garden Study Group had a presentation this week on creating butterfly gardens and many of the plants recommended are those that we already grow in our annual and perennial garden beds.

Shasta Daisy Becky
Phlox Bubblegum
Echinacea Kim's Knee High
Daylily Chicago Rosy

Many butterflies have specific plants that they lay their eggs on such as the Monarch who prefers Milkweed, however, some will lay their eggs on a variety of plants.  Some will even prefer your veggie garden laying their eggs on the tops of carrots. 

This years Nantes Carrots were planted under the daylilies in the veggie garden.

In all of the years I taught we raised butterflies in the classroom for the children to see the metamorphosis contained in the life cycle of the butterfly.  They were always the Painted Lady Butterfly which is also known as the school butterfly.  They adapt easily to a prepared food more so than other species, not really showing the children how they feed in nature, but better than not experiencing this life cycle.

Butterflies need sun to warm their bodies so that they can fly, cannot tolerate wind or pesticides.

Agastache Blue Fortune with Allium Summer Beauty
Lurie Garden, Chicago

Recent research is showing that the color of the plants does not really matter, but landing pads do help such as on the Coneflowers, Rudebeckias, etc.

Provide flowers of different sizes, color, fragrance and shapes.  Strong scented flowers such as lilac and lavender draw many butterflies.

Butterflies suck, do not chew, also do not drink from birdbaths because they need a landing pad out of water.  Some rocks or stones built up at a water source works well.

These are only some of the butterfly attracting plants in my garden, there are many more.  Trees, shrubs and many wildflowers also create butterfly havens.  Many annuals are also in this category such as Marigolds, Zinnias and Petunias keep the butterflies coming all summer.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Sustainable Plants For 2013

It was a summer to remember that summer of 2012, fried leaves, wilting flowers and the actual disappearance of foliage above ground level.

Astilbe along north side fried even with sufficient water.

How soon we forget and become so excited about all of the new plant introductions for the coming season.

I am trying to keep my focus on the plants that did well despite the intense heat and lack of rain.  Water is not always the answer in high temperatures, no matter how much water I gave my astilbies on the north side they could not take the heat.

One of the best Heucheras in the heat was Peach Flambe.
Heucherellas actually do even better in the heat - Sweet Tea.
Heucherella Stoplight

Hydrangeas are also not heat resistant, except for Limelight, and maybe some others, that suffered neither leaf or flower damage.  I guess I could include Hydrangea Unique in this category also, both large hydrangeas.  The smaller newer varieties suffered, i.e., Endless Summer, Starlight.

Hydrangea Little Lime
Hydrangea Let's Dance Starlight
Flowers wilted and leaves browned during the heat.
Hydrangea Limelight
Hydrangea Unique
 If you are willing to water there are many plants that will reward you with wonderful blooms even in 100 degree temperatures.
Clematis Hagley Hybrid
All of the clematis did well with sufficient water.
Orienpet Lavon Lilies
Lilies do not shy away from the heat and so easy to grow!
Phlox Bubblegum
Phlox will reward you all summer if you deadhead.
Daylily Mary Todd
Daylily Arnie's Choice
There are many other choices of heat resistant perennials but these are just some of the plants that worked for me. 
Grasses are great in the heat but if not watered will flop.  My Panicum Northwind in the alley garden began to bend over last summer from drought not heat.  It is among many drought resistant plants like sedums, nepeta, agastache and centranthus, so I put a drip system back there mainly for the grasses.
Alley Garden
Some extra pruning this spring will keep the growth more compact.
Coleus Redhead, Dichondra Silver Falls and Cordyline
Annuals that will take the heat
Agave, Purslane and Croton
Supertunia Bubblegum
One of the annuals of the year
I am not looking forward to a summer like last year, but based on this winter I'm ready if it comes!