butterfly gardening, with jane hurwitz

JANE HURWITZ says that her mission is simply this: to get more of us to garden with butterflies in mind. I suspect that sounds like something you wouldn’t mind being nudged to do, or do more effectively. Jane Hurwitz is editor of “Butterfly Gardener” magazine, and former director of the Butterfly Garden and Habitat Program for the North American Butterfly Association.

Her 2018 book from Princeton University is called “Butterfly Gardening, the North American Butterfly Association Guide,” and offers practical advice—both the overall principles and also plant-specific palettes, region by region. We talked about the role of native and non-native plants; about what the Number 1 plant gardeners around the country credited as being an effective attractant; about taking into account the borrowed landscape around you, and what an adult butterfly looks for in a flower, anyway.

Read along as you listen to the July 9, 2018 edition of my public-radio show and podcast using the player below. You can subscribe to all future editions on iTunes or Stitcher (and browse my archive of podcasts here).

butterfly-gardening q&a with jane hurwitz



Q. Now, you garden in New Jersey, just for perspective so, people know but, this is a book for everywhere. But, you’re in Jersey, yes?

A. It is a book for everywhere—butterflies are everywhere. And, in working with North American Butterfly Association, my focus has been—for the 15 years that I’ve been with them—is promoting butterfly habitat for everybody.

Q. O.K., and I think, if I remember my numbers correctly, there are maybe 750 species of butterflies, or thereabouts in North America. And obviously, you couldn’t cram them all into the book, who made the cut? What was your approach in figuring out how to filter, and what butterfly species would be addressed?

A. Well, it was very hard in the beginning to figure that out. But, what I came up with was wide spread butterflies. Ones that have a range that would cover most of the United States and also represent the six different families of butterflies, so that people could really learn about butterflies as a group of insects.

Q. Is this a competitive thing, butterfly gardening and butterfly watching—is this something like us crazy birders like myself, who count and we want to know how many and we tell each other how many we’ve seen in our gardens? Is this what happens? [Laughter.]

A. Some people are like that, I wouldn’t call them crazy.

Q. [Laughter.] I’m teasing. I’m calling myself crazy.

A. [Laughter.] I know, I know. There are some, and that’s great but, that’s not really the majority. I think really the majority of people who garden for butterflies, they may want to list, which is what you’re calling listing the different species. But there’s just a huge range of different interests.

Some people want to grow caterpillars, they enjoy helping the caterpillars and the process of metamorphosis, which is fascinating. I think everybody should grow a caterpillar once, at least. [Above, black swallowtail caterpillar at Margaret’s.]

There are people that just want to make sure that whatever they’re doing outside, that it’s kind of “do no harm.” They don’t detract from butterfly habitats, a very simple idea. And there’s everything between. I come from a plant nerdiness. I just like plants.

Q. Yes, me too.

A. And once you really like plants, you start to see all the different creatures out there that interact with them.

Q. Speaking of that, as I said in the introduction, you cover many different regions including with really helpful charts. That was one of the things that really attracted me to the book right away: the recommended plants for each,  so no matter where someone’s located.

Before we get to the specific regional charts in the book, there are some general guidelines, I assume, for making a butterfly garden. I was interested to see, for instance, that you did not take a hard line on native-only palette. You included some non-natives and things like that. So, what are some of the principles that were about making a butterfly garden wherever we are?

A. Well, I like to keep it very simple because that way you can include more people. And, my definition of butterfly gardening is very simple. That, it’s a garden that provides resources that support the entire butterfly’s life cycle. [More on butterfly-garden basics from NABA.]

Q. O.K., the entire, O.K..

A. So, you have egg, caterpillar, chrysalis and butterfly. And depending on the species of butterfly, say for example, a monarch, that would come to your garden, lay eggs in the late spring, early summer depending on where you are. You could watch the eggs hatch into a caterpillar, you can watch the chrysalis—they’re beautiful, they have little flecks of gold on them. And then about in 12 days, 14 days, you see a monarch emerge. So you could see the entire life cycle and, it’s fascinating.

Other butterfly species are not quite so easy to watch. I have a lot of great spangled fritillaries in my garden.

Q. So do I. [Above, a great spangled fritillary in Margaret’s garden, on Verbena bonariensis.]

A. They overwinter as a teeny-tiny little caterpillars near violet plant roots. I’ve never seen the caterpillar. So, you would want to not disturb where you have violets growing. So, there’s all sorts of little tricks that you learn as you learn to identify what butterflies are already coming to your garden. It’s really very simple; it’s a bit like putting a puzzle together.

Q. So we need to know what they eat, and what they eat in some cases at different life phases, as well because it’s not always the same. What do butterflies eat—that’s the adult form—what do they eat versus…

A. Most butterflies are nectar-feeders, and nectar is a sugary substance produced by glands in flowers, sometimes actually outside of the flower. But, butterflies mostly come to nectar in flowers.

There are actually butterflies that prefer other food sources, like animal scat or fermenting fruit.

Q. Yes. [Laughter.]

A. That’s a fact but most of your garden butterflies come to nectar. And, you can do that—a lot of choosing your plants for a butterfly garden, you choose caterpillar food for the caterpillar phase, and you choose nectar plants. Not all plants, not all flowers, produce nectar that butterflies really like or, can access. So, it’s best when starting to choose from a list of known attractive nectar plants, and you’ll be off to a great start that way. And you can experiment after that.

Q. O.K., so we’re going to start with the nectar plants. So, then that’s flowers—yes you’re right, there are extrafloral nectaries, but they’re not so interested usually in those.

So, are some of their flower preferences—it seems like they probably aren’t exactly what we as gardeners are looking for necessarily. We might say, “Oh, I really want the most scented one,” but I don’t know, butterflies might have no interest in scent. Do they like certain colors, shapes—are they morphologically based, is it the shape of the flower that they’re looking for?

A. A lot of it is the shape of the flower because butterflies have a long tongue that works basically by suction. A very basic way to think of it is a long straw. And a bigger butterfly will have, proportionately, a longer tongue. [Above, monarch on a Tithonia.] So you want different size flowers, so that you can have small butterflies that can access the nectar in a smaller tubular flower.

But, the quality of nectar varies. So, certain flowers have a more viscous, or liquidy nectar, which butterflies can suck up easily. That’s why I say it’s best to start with a list. There’s tons of lists, I have lists in my book, of what plants butterflies really like. And I’ll tell you the one in all of my interviews, everybody across the country uses is Eastern purple coneflower.

Q. [Laughter.] Yes, that’s funny.

A. It blooms for a long time, which is important when you’re butterfly gardening—you want a long season of nectar. And it’s easy to grow, it’s fairly deer-resistant. It’s adaptable to a lot of different types of gardens. It prefers full sun, but it’ll take a little shade. So, hands-down, that is the Number 1 native nectar plant that people tend to use.

Well, the second thing that butterfly gardeners choose for nectar plants are zinnias. And that’s an annual. You have to plant it every year. It’s not native but butterflies love them. So, you can use that one starting out because they’ll bloom the first year, which is a great thing. You can use them to fill in the gaps if you have a lot of perennials, but perennials might only bloom for three, four or five weeks, whatever you’re growing. So this idea of a long season of nectar can be accomplished by putting in a few annuals.

Q. Would those be single-flowered, like fewer petals? What would be a good choice of a zinnia for butterflies, or all of them are just as good?

A. Well, it’s best always for butterflies to choose the single-flowered varieties. And that’s a very good question because the Eastern purple coneflower, of course, is heavily bred when you go to a nursery or garden center.

Q. Indeed. Indeed.

A. You see all those crazy double ones [above, ‘Secret Affair’ double Echinacea], and all sorts of different things. And quite often when plants are bred to be double, which is with the extra petals, which people really love, they’re beautiful plants, but the tissue that they use to make the extra petals has to come from somewhere, and quite often that comes from the reproductive organs of the flower, which includes the nectar-producing glands.

So, you can’t make a blanket statement and say, “oh, every double flower is not producing nectar,” but many of them are not. I like to say, if you love the look of that flower, and you want it in your garden, take it home and try it. But, it may not feed nectar for butterflies.

Q. Right, and in places where they’re doing research on things like this in real conditions, of different cultivars–because that’s what you’re talking about as opposed to the straight species of, say, purple coneflower. Places like Mt. Cuba Center in Delaware, which is in your book—and every trial they do. And now that they’re doing collaborations with University of Delaware on attractiveness to pollinators and other beneficial insects, time after time what you just said is what they’re finding.

So, yes you can take it home and you can try it, but likely the thing that’s the closest looking and structured like the straight species is going to be the big winner among insect-attracting. That’s what they’re finding, generally—and I’m being very loose about my description. [Laughter.]

A. Well, I think that that’s correct though. And, to add to that, I think that’s why we need more butterfly gardeners. Because, when I give talks or when I’m meeting with people, people will say, “oh, I’ve tried this, I’ve tried that,” and you really get feedback. Because until you take it home and try it, you don’t really know. There are selections of native plants, and I think Mount Cuba’s trials, their phlox trials actually turned up one—it’s Phlox paniculata ‘Jeana.’ [Above, photo from Mt. Cuba Center.]

It’s a selection but it isn’t actually bred. And, butterfly gardeners have been using this for years and years and years. It’s sterile; it won’t set seed and give you a nice population, but butterflies love this plant.

Q. And it’s a surprisingly small flowers, actually.

A. They do, and what’s interesting is, in the ones I’ve seen in New Jersey, it tends to bloom later than the straight species, which from a gardening standpoint, that’s interesting. You get more bloom in your area. I have some of it growing in a bed full of the straight species. So, the straight species starts to die down; there’s still a few blooms then the ‘Jeana’ comes in nicely after that.

Q. Right, so you started out by using purple coneflower as an example, because in the book, you have not just researched by reading other books, or whatever. But, you’ve actually interviewed many butterfly gardeners around the country in these different regions to get their insights and compare their insights.

Were there top… you mentioned coneflowers, and that’s I don’t know whether you want to say a composite or a sunflower family, or daisy or whichever version—but is that a top group of plants as well? Are there either genera or families, especially families, that are the most highly recommend like there are for bees, where the sunflower family and the mint family are two really highly recommended—the composites and the mints.

A. Those are the same two families that butterflies tend to love. But now bees have a different mouth part. They tend to have more of a lapping mouth part, and they can access nectar that’s much thicker. So, also there are a lot of garden plants that don’t produce nectar but produce a lot of pollen. So, I find that very interesting; maybe some people would find that too much information, right? That you might have a great plant and there’s bees all over it, and you would assume that’s great for butterflies, but, in fact, it’s not.

Q. Right, because it’s about the pollen, right.

A. Yes, so you need to watch what’s going on in your own garden, which is the fun part: to go out and see what’s really popular.

Q. Any scent or color or anything, does any of that come into play or no?

A. You know, you read a lot that certain colors are very attractive for butterflies and others aren’t. But the trouble is, there’s always exceptions. In the book, it’s funny you ask that, because I actually avoided that point in the book.

Q. Yes, I feel like I don’t know if anyone knows—that’s what my inference is.

A. What I find interesting about it, is that butterflies see in the ultraviolet range. And there’s actually nectar guides—and I have a little bit about this in the book—and some of these are visible to the human eye. So, if you start looking in plants, they’ll be dark lines or dots, and that’s actually leading the insect into where the nectar is. And I find that a lot more interesting than fussing about the colors that we see. Because butterflies don’t have vision like us.

Q. So it leads them to the literal sweet spot doesn’t it?

A. Right, so I’m not trying to avoid your question, but I had made a concerted effort to not go there, because that’s a scientific point and it’s debatable. And people like to say, “oh orange flowers, they love orange flowers.” Well, they love pink flowers, too. The interesting thing is, one thing you hear is they don’t like white flowers. But, there are some plants like the mountain mints, which are Pycnanthemum. Those are white flowers, but if you get down and look at them, they have a ton of little purple spots, and lines and dots. So, I think the takeaway is, butterflies see differently than us. So, I avoided taking sides on that issue.

Q. I mean, as I said before, I’m into birds, and one of the great current ornithologists, Pete Dunne, says, “Birds are almost always where they’re supposed to be.” So, shore birds aren’t in the desert, right? [Laughter.]

A. Right, right. [Below, butterflies nectaring on Asclepias tuberosa in a NABA Certified Butterfly Garden.]

Q. And those plant charts in your book, which show which butterflies or caterpillars interact with which plants, there was sort of this “aha” thing, on  the one that’s about Eastern deciduous forest, because I’m in the Northeast, that’s my area.

And there was sort of this “aha,” or maybe I should say it was sort of a, “Duh, why didn’t I get this?” moment.

In the chart for my area I saw the silver-spotted skipper, and some people would debate whether skippers are butterflies, but that’s another matter. It was in one column and if I slid across that column to see what plant it favored, it said black locust trees, Robinia–which of course, my woods here are full of. I’m in a giant 7,000-acre state park and I’m full of locust trees. [Laughter.]

And, so all these years, I’ve been saying, “Gosh, I wonder why I have so many silver-spotted skippers?” Silly Margaret, didn’t go look it up.

So, a long way to ask you: Do you recommend that sort of starting from the surrounding habitat, taking that into account—these sort of almost forensic exercises to figure out who we could attract? Because they’re probably using those trees at different times and I didn’t plant those trees, do you know what I mean?

A. It’s kind of reverse engineering.

Q. Yes.

A. So, there’s two ways to approach butterfly gardening, which is to go out there and look at what butterflies are already there or, what you’re suggesting is, go out and take a survey of the plants that you have, and I think that’s something that anybody can do. Even if they aren’t living in a sunny spot where they might attract butterflies, that means they’re probably living in a shady spot.

So, learning what trees and shrubs you have, can be really important to promoting butterfly habitat and butterfly gardening. So, just because you aren’t in what might appear to be the perfect gardening spot, you may actually have a lot of habitat, and you could at least go out and watch the caterpillars, and watch the butterflies when they come to lay eggs, which is quite interesting. So, yes, that’s one of the ways.

And the other thing I would add, look beyond your yard.

Q. Yes, exactly. And again, I didn’t plant those locusts. You know what I mean?

A. Right, so another way to increase butterfly gardening is to help schools, all sorts of retirement homes have butterfly gardens—there’s things you can do that aren’t just in your yard. And, those can be really enriching for you personally, and also for the butterflies.

Q. So, in the beginning, I mentioned, that I was interested to see that the palate wasn’t 100 percent native. And I think there’s one garden in the book, for instance, at least one, maybe more, that uses a plant that I found probably is the most popular—”voted the most popular by my butterflies” [laughter]—is Verbena bonariensis, the tall verbena.

And it’s kind of a self-sowing annual, and I always am sort of selfish: I let some of it sow right by the two windows that are near where I work and sit at my desk each day. So, that I see them even from inside. They’re coming to nectar, and they’re landing on those. So, that’s a great plant, even though it’s not native. The native plants and the emphasis—a lot of the gardeners interviewed are relying on natives and a lot of the things in the charts are natives, yes? [Above, silver-spotted skipper on V. bonariensis.]

A. The charts, I believe if I’m remembering correctly are almost entirely native. And when you come in, like with the Verbena bonariensis, which is an annual as you move north and as you come further south, it becomes a tender perennial. In certain more Southern areas, it can be a bit invasive. So, when you look at plant charts, as butterfly gardeners, or as gardeners in general, we need to be aware of what we’re buying. Because people will sell you things that you may not really want to bring home.

Q. Right.

A. Because of invasiveness. So, you have to do a little bit of research there. But, I like what you’re doing by putting it somewhere that you can see it easily and everyday, I actually use butterfly bush for that. I use it as a gauge. I grow one of the sterile-seeded varieties, so it’s not going to spread. I keep it right by my front door, so, it’s a gauge; I can tell what [butterfly] might be further out in the yard, which is nice.

And also, when people come over—believe it or not, I have family members even who have absolutely no interest in going and looking at butterflies—but this plant is right there by the front door and you can have a conversation. Or they do appreciate looking at it if they don’t have to get their feet dirty. So it’s a way of starting conversations.

Q. Right, so the reason, the thing that we’re sort of implying, that we didn’t say yet, about butterfly bush, the Buddleia–they’re not native, but also they don’t serve to support the whole life cycle of any of our native species of American butterflies. At least, I loosely understand that. They’re not a host plant for anybody. So, it can’t do the whole job for any for our species.

A. Right.

Q. Right, so that’s the downside of it.

A. That’s the downside, and it is with a number of things that I’ve already mentioned, the zinnias, the Verbena bonariensis, but, what I found from my interviews is that people use these, but the majority of their garden will probably be native plants, and carefully selected plants that will feed caterpillars.

Q. Right, that match up with a species like the charts do match up with the important species in their area, yes.

A. Butterflies and their caterpillars are very specific. Caterpillars will only eat certain foods. And that’s a relationship that’s developed with the insects and the plants over thousands and thousands of years. So, when I say that people have carefully selected caterpillar food plants—like I had mentioned great spangled fritillary, they use violets. So, I will have violets. [Above, great spangled fritillary laying eggs on violets; below, mating.]

It’s not that you can just put out any old plant, and butterflies will come and say, “oh this looks like a nice plant, I’m going to lay my eggs here.” But there is a relationship and we do foster that, and that’s what you keep referring to the charts, because it will tell you this is a caterpillar food plant for xyz.

Q. For these species, right. So, in the last minute, I just want to ask you to just tell us quickly a little bit about Butterfly Gardener Magazine and the association, the North American Butterfly Association.

A. Well, there are two quarterly magazines for members of North American Butterfly Association, American Butterflies and Butterfly Gardener Magazine, which I’m the editor of. And they just have slightly different focuses. They’re both about butterflies.

And NABA is an association that promotes butterfly conservation and butterfly habitat and the enjoyment of butterflies. So, there’s a lot of different programing, from the butterfly counts, which are going on this summer. They go year-round almost, because in more Southern regions you can have a butterfly count in March, where you couldn’t, of course, in New England.

There’s the Butterfly Gardening and Habitat Program, which I directed and there’s the magazines, there’s a list-serve where you can ask questions. It’s a great organization and I think the book represents the organization very well because it’s a group effort. I interviewed members, they gave photographs, it’s like joining a little coffee club at your local diner where everybody shares information and everybody’s really welcome.

Q. Well, that’s a perfect way to end, because it really is what it is, and that’s how the book makes me feel. It’s like, I can do it. There are examples of other people from my region and elsewhere who are doing it.

for more information

enter to win ‘butterfly gardening’

I’LL BUY A COPY of “Butterfly Gardening: The North American Butterfly Association Guide,” for one lucky reader. [UPDATE: The giveaway is closed.] All you have to do to enter is comment in the box at the very bottom of the page, answering this question:

Have you targeted any effort to butterflies in particular–or do you notice butterflies (what kind?) at certain plants in your garden or wider landscape?

No answer, or feeling shy? Just say something like “count me in” and I will, but a reply is even better. I picked a random winner after entries closed at midnight Tuesday, July 17, 2018. Good luck to all; US and Canada only.

(Photos except as noted from Jane Hurwitz; used with permission.)

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MY WEEKLY public-radio show, rated a “top-5 garden podcast” by “The Guardian” newspaper in the UK, began its ninth year in March 2018. In 2016, the show won three silver medals for excellence from the Garden Writers Association. It’s produced at Robin Hood Radio, the smallest NPR station in the nation. Listen locally in the Hudson Valley (NY)-Berkshires (MA)-Litchfield Hills (CT) Mondays at 8:30 AM Eastern, rerun at 8:30 Saturdays. Or play July 9, 2018 show using the player near the top of this transcript. You can subscribe to all future editions on iTunes or Stitcher (and browse my archive of podcasts here).

  1. Tom Winner says:

    I’m pleased to see some butterflies in my beginning native plant garden. Up to now, there’s been very little activity.

  2. Carolyn says:

    We plant zinnias in several beds but include milkweed, and also other perennials as well as annuals too! Have found that pollinators love my spearmint. I also plant parsley, dill, fennel for the butterflies. We have been fortunate to have PawPaw trees growing at the edge of our property in a small woods. This draws the Zebra Swallowtail butterfly. Would love to have a copy of Butterfly Gardening by Jane Hurwitz for our library.

  3. Jill Nichols says:

    I try to buy plants that attract butterflies, bees and hummingbirds ( deer resistance is also nice for my backyard). I always put sunflowers in my vegetable garden, have a lot of purple coneflower in different spots, coreopsis, sedum. This year I added an orange butterfly plant, huechera, and yarrow. I had no idea violets served some purpose in the life cycle of the butterfly. I do have those in my garden. I plant many varieties of salvias, perrenials and annuals. I’m sure I have other things that attract butterflies but do not have it memorized what the attractors are. I will say that I don’t think butterflies are super abundant in my yard. I have noticed several small white moths lately/ maybe they are butterflies? But I haven’t seen a large number of any butterfly with more color. Don’t know if I am doing something wrong? I do watch for bees and hummingbirds ands see them regularly. I do want to learn more about how to attract butterflies. Love reading about the variety of topics that you cover. Thanks for sharing a book with your reading followers.

  4. Louise Oppedahl says:

    I saw what I thought was a Monarch butterfly flying from Monarda to monarda today. It would be great to see if my dill and attracts caterpillars again.

  5. Audrey Lawrence says:

    I am gradually adding flowers that are known for their nectar every season, I noticed that the Monarchs love the Zinnias & The Butterfly bush (dark knight) and the Fritillaries and the Swallowtails love the Butterfly bush as well.

  6. Judith says:

    For the last two years I’ve planted milkweed in my yard and there is already a notable increase in the number of monarchs (the most prevalent butterfly here). I will be working with our community it’s garden program to incorporate more pollinator friendly plants in our public spaces – including the neighborhood lakefront park. This book would be very helpful in getting information on other plants that would be both butterfly friendly and able to survive the winters on the shores of Lake Erie.

  7. Cathy Bertinuson says:

    I always have planted flowers for the beauty and the lovely scents. But after reading about the decline in monarch populations a few years ago, I started seeds of asclepius tuberosa and incarnata (pink and white ). The next year I planted Joe Pye Weed, and added bronze fennel for the black swallowtails. As I learn more about butterflies, I continue to add plants for them! Next up, a spicebush!

  8. laurie cousart says:

    this looks great- I want to learn more about butterfly gardening especially host plants as opposed to nectar plants.



  9. Jackie Bruno says:

    I have the swallowtail caterpillars (maybe Eastern TIger yellow every year on my dill) The Monarch Butterflies like my Joe Pye Weed, Purple Coneflower and Butterfly bushes. I also get a lot of cabbage whites, a beautiful small blue butterfly, and many others that I would like to learn the names of as well as many moths.

  10. Andrea says:

    I haven’t targeted any particular species of butterfly. Instead I try to plant an array of flowers, herbs, and vegetables (carrot family) that produce high-nectar flowers or offer food for the caterpillars. However, I don’t think I’m succeeding, because I rarely see butterflies anymore. It’s frightening.

  11. GreenJean says:

    Yes! Love these podcasts on inviting pollinators!
    I would love a copy of the book as a reference and inspiration!

  12. Laura says:

    This year I’ve planted phacelia for the first time to attract more pollinators. I hope butterflies will like it too. The swallowtails seem to love the dianthus flowers.

  13. Nancy says:

    We have been very successful attracting monarchs with butterfly weed and rose milkweed. Three years ago we had so many black swallowtails and toward the end of the season 7 or 8 caterpillars on the same dill plant that they ate down to the ground. Although we have an abundance of dill and some fennel, we haven’t seen them in the last couple of years like three years ago. We have lots of cabbage white – which I would prefer we didn’t have because they are destroying are cabbages – and what I believe are great spangled fritillary . Ours seem so much tinier than when we see photos of them but perhaps it’s because the camera is so close up. We are hoping to expand the diversity and are looking around for what else seems to like what we are growing and also studying lists that tell what is prevalent here and what flowers they like best.

  14. Lynn says:

    I have been raising monarch butterflies for the past couple of years and am also trying to get more of them to make it to butterhood outside by planting different varieties of milkweed near trees/flowers that will camouflage their chrysalis. I have also been planting zinnias in succession over the summer so they will have flowers for nectaring on their way to Mexico in the fall. Last year, I planted zinnia seeds in August and when other gardeners flowers were looking beat I had fresh, new flowers for the butterflies. I intend to do that again this year. I plant a batch of zinnia seeds monthly throughout the summer until the first week of August. I also had some petunias that bloomed well into the fall last year that I noticed several varieties of butterflies visiting. I will continue to plant them as well knowing the butterflies enjoy them. And yes, they do love Jeana phlox and Tithonia and Mexican flame vine.

  15. Barbara Fornwalt says:

    I also raise butterflies, Monarchs, Black Swallowtails, Spicebush, Red-spotted Purple, and Tiger Swallowtail. My host plants include Asclepias tuberosa and Asclepias incarnata, Spicebush, wild Cherry, Paw paw, fennel, Fern leaf dill, Sweet Bay Magnolia, etc. I have a backyard nursery where I propagate native and non native perennials from cuttings, and I design butterfly and hummingbird gardens for people. Annuals that attract the most butterflies for me are Lantana, Passion flower, penta, zinnia, homestead purple verbena and tropical milkweed. Jeana Phlox is the most popular nectar perennial, especially for Tiger Swallowtails. Others are purple coneflower, liatris, salvia, Ironweed, Cardinal Lobelia, and Buddleia. Natives they love are Buttonbush, wild bergamot, hackberry, Queen Anne’s lace, and others. I’ve never won any of your book offers, but I would love to have this particular book!

  16. cintra m fricke says:

    So…before knowing anything about butterflies I planted a butterfly bush in my garden. Now…should I kill it and start over with something native? I live in an area inundated by deer….will native plants to encourage butterflies work for me?

  17. Kimberly Burkard says:

    I have been adding native plants to my landscaping and gardens for almost 20 years. I stick with the standard species as opposed to nativars as I find them more robust and better suited to wildlife. I also do not deadhead or purge my landscape of leaves and other dead plant material at the end of the season to help provide the habitat and winter protection that our native species require. That combined with no pesticides of any kind has made an oasis for wildlife. I have lightning bugs, butterflies, bumble bees, hosts of birds, and more. The number and variety of birds that sing to welcome dawn at my place tells me I’m doing it right.

  18. judi desrosiers says:

    Bronze fennel, dill, butterfly weed, Verbena bonariensis and milkweed. Have noticed an increase in butterflies and caterpillars this year. Would love to read the book.

  19. Joanne says:

    After our cold winter, I was afraid my lantana would not return, but it has and many butterflies are happy!


  20. Bonnie Jo Berg says:

    My yard is a Monarch Waystation so yes, I plant flowers for the butterflies and I have lots of Milkweed for the Monarch caterpillars. I have been adding more natives the last few years. Butterflies of all kinds seem to like it as well at other pollinators. I’d love a copy of this book, I’m always looking to learn more!

  21. Mike Z says:

    I bought the Swift Guide to Butterflies on your recommendation, and I’ve been keeping a close eye on it this year. A red-spotted purple admiral showed up. It wasn’t there for one of my plants, but I was thrilled to see it. The silver-spotted skipper is after my black locusts, too, by the way. My best plant offerings for the butterflies have yet to hit their prime time, though.

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