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  • Writer's pictureJefferson Landscape

Butterfly Gardens

Nothing is more delightful than walking out into a beautiful garden and have it come to life with an array of butterflies. If this hasn't been a successful strategy in your garden, this should help you invite butterflies to visit now and for many seasons thereafter.

Just an Egg

When getting started with the design of your butterfly garden, the placement of your butterfly friendly plants is key. Females will lay their eggs on or near "host plants". Newly hatched caterpillars are unable to travel far distances during their first phase of life, so it's important to place nectar plants close to the hosts. In order for the caterpillar to survive, strategically planting a combination of both plant types is important.

Although some butterflies can lay up to 500 eggs in their lifespan, without sufficient host plants and food, your garden will produce fewer butterflies. A helpful rule of thumb is to integrate your host plants with your nectar plants. Additionally, these plants will be used for food, so if you do not wish to have half-eaten plants in plain view, plan to place your host and nectar plants in an inconspicuous location of your yard.

Oh, My Plants!

Now that you've planned your design to have nectar and host plants, these hatchlings are going to use your host plants as food. Depending on the number of eggs hatched, your host plants may not have many leaves left on them once the caterpillars have grazed their way to a mature state. If this is the case, you've successfully selected a safe haven for caterpillars and provided a good travel distance for them to find food after being hatched.

Nectar Plants

Providing a good array of nectar-rich plants suited for your native butterflies will ensure their return for many years to come. In northern California, spring is the butterfly migration period, so it's important to plant butterfly friendly plants for a spring time bloom. Select plants that will bloom throughout the season and beyond.

Okay, So Which Plants Do I Use? The list is endless. Jefferson Landscape and Design has provided a list of plants recommended to help you get started.

BUTTERFLY PLANTS (partial list)

Salvia 'Ember's Wish' / Common Name: Salvia 'Ember's Wish

Hibiscus Rosa Sinensis / Common Name: Hibiscus 'Brilliant'

Salvia Chiapensis / Common Name: Chiapas Sage Abutilon Palmeri / Common Name: Indian Mallow Baccharis Pilularis / Common Name: Coyote Brush Ceanothus / Common Name: Buck Brush Cornus Florida / Common Name: Flowering Dogwood

Hibiscus Moscheutos / Common Name: Rose Mallow Poites Sonora / Common Name: Sonora Skipper Festuca / Common Name: Fescue Jinperus Californica / Common Name: California Juniper Prunus Ilicifolia / Common Name: Hollyleaf Cherry

Salvia 'Wendy's Wish' / Common Name: Salvia 'Wendy's Wish Rhododendron Occidentale / Common Name: Western Azalea Ribes Californicum / Common Name: Hillside Gooseberry Salix Lasiolepsis / Common Name: Arroyo Willow Stipa / Common Name: Purple Stipa

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