I actually have most of those growing in my yard already - how neat is that? I wasn't even trying. I had Monarchs in my yard, but I never noticed them by the Mexican Sunflowers or the Butterfly Weed, only by the Butterfly bush.
Your butterfly weed is the host plant. Your other plants are the nectar plants for the adults. .I didn't realize that only milkweed plants served as the sole Monarch cat nursery until I read the info in that website. It is truly neat!
I did not realize that there were that many species of Asclepias that were host plants. I am a little curious about Asclepias. I do see some Monarchs around so that must mean there is some Asclepias growing. Is this a plant that grows fairly commonly in the wild? Have I likely seen it growing along the roadside or trails? Is it a decent handsome landscape plant or should I tuck it in an out of the way spot? Asclepias is on my list of seeds to winter sown...now I just need to find that pack that I purchased.
I do see quite a few swallowtails and I can attest that they love Verbena bonairiensis. It is a moth and butterfly magnet. I know that butterfly bushes (Buddleia davidii) attract butterflies, but this year I had to stop and stare at a neighbor's bush that had about a dozen large butterflies (don't real what kind) at the same time.
BTW, thanks for the link. That seems like a great program for kids, schools, scouts, or what ever.
It is a great link in conserving and maintain this particular butterfly species. Monarchwatch.org explains just about everything you need to know in maintaining a monarch habitat on your property including an explaination of the varieties of Asclepias (milkweeds in general). It also gives instructions on how you can officially certify your garden habitat. The application itself is a good tool to use in setting up a trial run.
I believe Asclepias is native to alot of countries. If you want to add them to your gardens, I would suggest looking through PlantFiles for the particular species you are interested in planting. I'm using a lot of Asclepias curassavica, tropical milkweed. The DGer who sent the seeds to me says his gets to 4'. So, in the back of my border it will go.
I've spotted alot of asclepias in pictures of gardens in the various message boards I visit. I haven't seen an ugly bloom yet. Lots of reds, oranges, & combinations of both, and also pink as in swamp milkweed.
I see asclepias tuberosa, butterfly weed, sometimes packaged and sold as "Butterly Flower". I suppose the word "flowers" is a better marketing tool than the word "weeds". LOL
I do not claim to be an expert by no means. I have a legal pad full of questions yet to be answered. I keep it by my puter and when I see a topic that may answer a question, I take notes. I Just have a huge interest in conservation, gardening and wild life.
I encourage all gardeners to try and plot-out an area designated as a true "organically maintained butterfly garden" somewhere on their property...for the sake of our flying flowers.
Oooh Deb thank you for that link. I'm going to get one for my boss who's trying to start a Bfly garden in Florida and I've been helping by saving some of the seeds I've traded for to give to her as well.
All of the pictures of milkweed that I've seen are very pretty and I like them. I don't know why they call them weeds (of course, I like wild violets which my husband swears are a weed with world domination plans!)
I saw the first monarch dashing overhead here the other day, no photos yet though. Maybe soon (planning on staking out in the yard this weekend with the camera!)
I just ordered my kit.Thanks for the link.I will start the seeds asap and also winter sew some.
I did my first butterfly gardening (cat to butterfly) this summer with the eastern black swallowtail.It was such a thrill and now I am hooked.
We have Asclepias Tuberosa growing wild in our place up in the NC mountains and loads of butterflies.There are also many other milkweeds but we are not up there for any length of time and it is hard to collect and raise the cats.
I started the Asclepias from seed, down here at the beach, the spring before last but they didn't come back this year.
There is so much information on this website! I just printed all the "stuff" on there and I'm putting it in a three ring binder for reference. (Hurts my neck to read too much info off the puter) I don't think you'll get the detailed "Creating a Monarch Waystation" guide with the seeds. You can just download & print it off. The guy told me all their info was now on the web site and they save printing cost which in turn goes to research.
I WSed lots of BF host and larval plant seeds last year. Big success. Especially MW curavassica (silky red) ---I might have seeds for this if someone can tell me when/how to collect it. This MW is a very attractive garden plant for me and I recommend it in the back of the sun garden border. Nice with daisies, liatris, coneflowers, etc.
I also planted (from the nursery) MW tuberosa (butterfly weed) to extend the MW season bloom in our garden--the first season it was great but was a weak returner in our garden (not the right soil). A very popular garden plant but often only orange is available although there is a yellow, too. More 'restrained' than the above.
The other big WS winner was verbena 'bonarienses' a very popular nectar plant and easy to WS.
Also, I wintersowed a short Tithonia (Mexican) about 2 feet tall which worked fine;
Don't forget to check out the DG Butterfly Gardening forum for ideas too.
Lots of BF plant seeds and cuttings are available through trades/gifts there to get started. If you need some MW or other seeds, I am sure there are some available through DGers.
We had so much fun with our butterfly garden this year and learned so much! I highly recommend adding some of their favorites to your garden, or even starting a separate garden in a sunny space if you have the room.
You're right about planting variety for extended bloom. Excellent point to remember.
I didn't realize there was a short variety of mexican sunflower? Interesting, mine is 9 ft tall. I'd love to fine a shorter version. What cultivar Is it called?
And don't forget the Zinnia's from seed--Just an hour ago I went on a Butterfly walk through a zinnia garden and we counted nearly a hundred monarchs and several swallowtails.
I think zinnias can be started when temps become a little milder in the springtime. (I am sure others know better how Zinnias can be WSed.)
The short Mexican Sunflower is Tithonia "Fiesta del Sol"--I bought the seed from Johnny's Selected Seed. I notice Diane's Seed offers a yellow version called Aztec Sun, both of them are around 2 feet tall. Fiesta was an AAS Award Winner in 2000.
Cordeledawg, that butterfly is a Red Spotted Purple. It has been hanging around since about June. Normally they are wayyyyy up high in the trees, but we got several shots early in the year of it checking out the neighbors (highly pesticidal) yard; then it started to hang out around here.
I don't have any specific host plants (I think they require tree species for larval hosting) - it just appears to like my flowers from time to time. Mostly I see it basking way up in an oak tree and sometimes on my Granny Smith apple tree.
I noticed a lot of peeps in the BF forum (John particularly) had great shots of BF's on zinnias. I'm going to have to try some for the BF garden this year. I wonder if it is a specific type, or if all zinnias are attractive to them?
I've attached DH's best shot of this beautiful Red Spotted Purple from back in June below. It's so lovely it hardly looks real!
I know lillput zinnia is one variety, but it's not my favorite. I like large blooms on zinnias, although I grew many different ones in '06. Here's a link that discusses good nectar plants for BF's. I'm using it to locate seeds for wsing.
Bad news on the short Tithonia Mexican Sunflower--I went out to check on it and noticed someone pulled it out (my yard man?). It was looking a little ratty...Will see if I can get seeds somewhere else.