We have lots of plants blooming now in our gardens, and butterflies are a frequent visitor to them. Zinnias are typically a butterfly magnet, and their cheery blooms add bright summer color to the garden. Profusion Red Yellow Bicolor Zinnia is a 2021 AAS Winner that grows about a foot tall and is covered in two inch golden yellow flowers that have a red center ring. As the blooms age, they turn to shades of apricot, pink and rose which makes for a stunning display. I have the plants growing in containers where they are attracting butterflies, especially the swallowtails.
The flowering alliums may not be quite as showy as the zinnias, but butterflies and pollinators alike are drawn to them. We have the Millenium Allium planted in several spots, and they are a trouble-free plant that blooms in mid summer with globe shaped pink-purple flowers. I spied two swallowtails on one plant last week, sipping on the nectar.
The purple coneflower (Echinacea purpurea) is another perennial flower that is a favorite of butterflies. We have the native purple one planted in several locations, as well as a few of the newer hybrids with different colored flowers. The butterflies seem to prefer the purple one though, at least in our garden. I’ve seen both swallowtails and the smaller Silver Spotted Skipper on them recently.
Butterfly weed (Asclepias tuberosa) is an aptly named perennial that butterflies really seem to love. The same genus gives us the common milkweed (Asclepias syriaca) which we have growing wild in a few spots and the swamp milkweed (Asclepias incarnata) which we have planted but isn’t yet blooming. I also have a purple milkweed (Asclepias purpurata) planted which hasn’t started flowering yet. The whole family is a favorite of monarch butterflies, and serves as a host plant for them.
The native Scarlet Hibiscus (Hisbicus coccineus) is really more of a plant that hummingbirds favor, but butterflies do visit the flowers. The big red blooms only last for a day, but the tall flower stalks usually have many blooms that open over a long period. The plants can get up to six feet tall or taller, but aren’t very wide so we have several planted closely together. They are common to wetlands and marshes, so they like it wet and I give them extra water during the summer months.
Another native plant that is a butterfly magnet is Joe Pye Weed (Eutrochium purpureum). I’ve had this plant in the garden for many years, and it is a longtime favorite for all kinds of butterflies. Yesterday I saw a Silver Spotted Skipper methodically getting nectar from each flower. By standing still with my camera, it ignored me while I captured a number of images. I truly love seeing the butterflies on the plants in our garden since we set quite a few of them out especially for them.
I hope you have enjoyed this look at the blooms and butterflies in our garden. I’ll be back soon with more happenings from Happy Acres!