Butterfly

A monarch butterfly sits on a milkweed plant at Powell Gardens.

Oh Boy! Here’s January!

Nobody ever said that – not seriously.

We are in for our fair share of dark, damp, dreary days.

Might as well spend our time wisely and dream.

Of what?

How about the perfect butterfly garden?

With all the problems the bee colonies are having, we are rediscovering the important role butterflies play in pollination.

Having the perfect butterfly garden doesn’t require a lot of space or expense.

In fact, while doing research for this article, I found a source that stated only three plants were needed to have a successful butterfly garden.

You ready? Butterfly weed, Purple coneflower, and New England Aster.

Isn’t it interesting these three are both host and nectar plants?

It doesn’t matter whether you are just starting out or have an existing butterfly paradise, there is always something new and exciting that you can do to make your place more attractive.

You could design to attract a certain kind of butterfly by planting a bunch of its favorite waystations.

The Clouded Sulfur (it’s the big, yellow one – I see it a lot in the fall) likes four o’clock, petunias, leadwort and phlox.

And, if you have alfalfa, vetch or peas for the host plant, the Sulfurs will fall in love.

We like the Great Spangled Fritillary (big – orange mostly with black specks).

They like dill, fennel, carrots and parsley as their host motel; and zinnia, oregano and privet as the nectar components.

Everybody knows if you want Monarchs, you plant milkweed, right?

That brings us to the next thing to consider while we’re dreaming of the perfect butterfly garden.

Whatever you plant, plant a lot of it.

The expert’s term is “mass planting."

More often than not, mass planting is done for the visual effect it creates.

But, for our purposes, we are planting in mass to better our chances of luring butterflies to our garden.

Spring brings marigolds which are usually plentiful and inexpensive.

Try this, pick an area where you have pretty good soil and it gets sun from morning to early afternoon.

Plant 20 or 30 (more if you can) and prepare to be amazed.

Here is a short list of some other winners: butterfly bush, bee balm (watch out, can be invasive), cosmos, lantana, coneflowers and zinnias.

Like any good waystation or motel, the more amenities; the more customers.

A place to get a drink would be appreciated by the Red Admiral and the Hairy Streak.

We have found playground sand kept moist works best.

Although they do like wood chips in the bird bath, so do the birds.

Not a safe place to quince one’s thirst.

Another nice addition would be rocks.

For some reason, the winged fairies of the glen enjoy sitting in the sun on warm rocks, contemplating the adventures of the New Year ahead.

If you have a specific question for Art Kammerlohr, write to 370 NW 121 Road, Warrensburg, MO 64093, or email maandpak@embarqmail.com.

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