Monday, May 6, 2013

Waiting on butterflies

I've planted what feels like a thousand butterfly nectar plants in my yard but I only seem to see cabbage whites and skippers. I've got milkweed and agastache, allium, aquilegia, sidalcea, mahonia, and solidago. I've got arctostaphylos and ceanothus, ribes and spirea.

I've got basking sites, in the form of the large flat light-colored rocks that surround the berm in the front.


I've got a meadow in development, which will get planted with achillea and asters alongside the grasses.


I'm feeling impatient, so I made an impromptu puddling station. Apparently butterflies won't drink from open water and they like mud puddles or wet gravel. I tucked a plate filled with gravel and soil near the milkweed. It will never stay wet all day but I've read you can bury a bucket full of sand in the soil and that should have some staying power through the heat of the day.


Do you have a butterfly magnet in your yard? What plant am I missing? Just don't say butterfly bush, it's a noxious weed in Oregon.

12 comments:

  1. When I was a kid, my dad would say, "Let's go sit on the porch and watch for butterflies." So that's how I thought you attracted them...

    ReplyDelete
  2. Shoot, so I need to build a porch? ;)

    ReplyDelete
  3. The biggest attractor of butterflies in our garden is Verbena bonariensis. It doesn't do its thing until later in summer, but it's a sure bet, and gives cool airy tall structure in the garden.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Oh, hooray! I have some of that in the back of the bed, which means I'll always have it in the bed, right?

    ReplyDelete
  5. bittenbyknittinMay 6, 2013 at 9:25 AM

    I don't have much luck with butterflies, either, even with a butterfly bush. Maybe, like with birds, a source of water is the secret.

    ReplyDelete
  6. I like that puddling station idea. We get the big yellow and black ones later in the season, but I haven't a clue what attracts them.,,I know...big help.

    ReplyDelete
  7. I find milkweeds, purple coneflowers, and anise hyssop the most successful at drawing butterflies. Having said that, I've been disappointed in the number and diversity of butterflies I see in my yard. This year I am adding three Caryopteris and a compact Buddleia. We'll see what happens. By the way, at first I thought you meant to set up a pudding station, not puddling. A pudding station may not attract butterflies, but I would drop by, I'm sure.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Jennifer DennisMay 6, 2013 at 7:07 PM

    I have no tangible advice. In my past gardens, I would see butterflies more mid-summer when rudbeckia and cone flowers are in bloom.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Do you have room for a spicebush (lindera benzoin)? It can be a largish woody shrub over time, very pretty, and a host plant for Swallowtails. Asters draw the orange ones (Monarchs or Viceroys) in my meadow.


    I loved the first commenter who thought that you attract butterflies by sitting on the porch! And like Jason, I am in favor of pudding stations, or perhaps cookie stands in any garden : )

    ReplyDelete
  10. Great! Watch for the bt issue if you're buying plants. Even organic ones.

    Check out rue - a beautiful little blue-ish greyish shrub. The last time I bought one it came with a caterpillar!

    We saw a whole molting last night - they walk out of the old skin with a body that has a new pattern. The old face drops off!


    Keep me posted!

    ReplyDelete
  11. I love pudding. I would never share that with the wildlife. Shoot, now I need to make pudding!

    ReplyDelete
  12. I wish I had room for a spicebush! I think the only place I could squeeze one in (maybe) is adjacent to the dogwood in the front yard. I suspect the dogwood would suck every bit of moisture away from it, though.

    I'm very intrigued by this cookie stand option . . . I think it warrants trying.

    ReplyDelete