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Time to tell us your Top Three Nectar Plants of the Season!

Cincinnati (Anderson, OH(Zone 6a)

Illoquin--I sort of know what you're talking about but I'll have to look up stigmas just to be sure...

You mentioned on another thread that your purple zinnias were excellent for the butterflies. Were they from purchased seed?

I got some traffic on my Benary's and probably a bit more on my Zowie Yellow Flames. Didn't have any single petaled ones to speak of...I wish I could have a patch of just zinnias to compare the traffic.

(Will be planting a few hundred daffs tomorrow and thinking of you, btw!)

Indianapolis, IN(Zone 5b)

Don't mention daffodils! I have too many for the allocated space and am culling left and right. so sad.

I had several kinds of Zinnias from purchased seed, and several kinds from swap seeds.

The run down is: 6) Burpeeanas were sort of cactusy and not popular. They were very pretty, tho.

2) State Fair, probably the least attractive and also the most favored.

5) Benarys -- Not very popular, but better than the Burpeeanas. I looked and they just don't have enough nectar,

4) Profusions - not too popular, unless they were planted where they could grow taller, and then they were ok.

3) Liliput - second to State Fair. Most flopped to the ground, and I think the (lack of) height was a problem. The ones that stayed erect were very popular. I don't have a lot of sun here and they were just in too much shade. Liliput is a miniature beehive flower on a long stem for cutting and it has a lot of stigmas.

1) Purple & Pink mix VERY POPULAR, but none too attractive. However in this mix was a single plant of a Giant Beehive Lavender (and I sent some to Becky's swap, so you might want to request them). It has a tremendous number of petals and each petal had a stigma and each stigma had nectar. There must have been 4 or 5 tiers of petals, which is why it is a beehive and not a double. The butterflies would crawl around the entire flower heads to get each and every stigma. Several times I had 3 butterflies on a single flower. The rest of the flowers from the mix were doubles, semi doubles, singles in lavender, mauve, pink and one single dark vibrant purple. I only saved seeds separately from the vibrant purple semi double and the giant beehive lavender.

They could have cross-pollinated easily, but as long a time as those butterflies stayed on each giant beehive Lavender flower, my guess is they selfed them.

I also had a couple other patches of Zinnias, and they were popular enough, but they were in the afternoon shade so I didn't see a lot of traffic. But I think it was there because as the sun moved around (July) and then moved back (Late Aug), they were in more sun and more popular. It was a Zinnia mix from swapped seed -- all colors. I just threw it out like bird seed when I noticed some bare patces of ground last June.

Does this help any?


Cincinnati (Anderson, OH(Zone 6a)

LOL yes, we culled out our daffs and I'm planting them at our daughter's house at college! She has plenty of sun there and I thought I would make a lasagna bed there too for cut flowers.

Thanks for the good rundown on the zinnias. It was hard for me to tell what was favored because of the part shade situation in our garden and the sun moving across the sky, too. My zinnias don't have a really nice place to grow well, either...must get the tree men out soon.

The lavender Giant Beehive Zinnia was from a purchased mix? or collected seeds? just wondering....

Interesting about the State Fair Zinnias. I have seen pics of them in the catalogs....

Thanks again for the zinnia rundown. t.

Cincinnati (Anderson, OH(Zone 6a)

After reading through it again for seed sowing ideas, I'm going to bump up this thread from last fall!

It is just chock full of great suggestions for the butterfly garden so thanks everyone for contributing to it!

Now I wonder what new seeds everyone is sowing for the coming butterfly season!?

A few seed packets waiting for space on the heat mats...!

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Indianapolis, IN(Zone 5b)


Good thread! I am doing lots and lots and lots of coneflowers from seed. And a lot of seeds from the Coneflowers I'm doing are from the Saul hybrids, which I already know won't come true, but I just want a varied mix of those soft colors, and not just that mauve. I am looking for all droopy petals and will probably cull out the ones that bloom with petals on a flat plane. I wish I had more sun!

Then the Zinnias...I think I said above that the Benary's Giants weren't popular. It was the same problem with the Fiesta Del Sol Tithonia. I believe they are just one step too far away from the native plant and just don't taste as good to the butterflies, or more likely don't have as much nectar. Soooo, I have bought Zinnia seeds from VanGogh Zinnias by color. I believe I bought her mixes: Ragin' Red and Sultry Salmon, then a short red Zinnia, something like Z. peruviana? I forget the name now, but it was 24" tall and all red single flowers. :))

Cincinnati (Anderson, OH(Zone 6a)

So far I have started seeds for a few essential nectar plants: liatris (3 kinds at least), verbena bonarienses, milkweeds, coneflowers (4 kinds), and a few salvias (for the hummers mainly). I also started some West Texas Mist Flower that everyone in the southwest raves about, so we shall see...I am very hopeful!

Now, about the zinnias--Thanks again for your analysis on the zinnias. Makes a lot of sense and good to know. I think I purchased a packet of every kind of zinnia except for the ones you're talking about! I did not buy any from Redbud Farm--and she has such a cute website and fun looking zinnia operation (although I am sure it's loads of work!)

I am working on sowing my herb seeds tonight. Don't know why I thought I had to have coriander and sorrel for the butterflies. I'll have to look those up again...

Algonquin, IL(Zone 5a)


Northern, NJ(Zone 6b)

For skippers especially, I planted native grasses like little bluestem and switch grass (hosts) near 1) asters and native mountain mint., both 2) Pycanthemum incanum (hoary) and 3) P. tenuifolium (narrowleaf).

All 3 are, mid (mints), to late season ,(asters) magnets to a whole host of pollinators.
All 3 plants in bloom are literally covered with bees and later skippers.
When the mints finish blooming the asters start.

Colima, Mexico(Zone 11)

1) Mexican Flame Vine as nectar and host plant

2) Tropical Asclepias as nectar and host plant

3) Tithonia (Mexican Sunflower, but it is really an aster) rotundifolia as nectar.

When the Mexican Flame Vine (Pseudogynoxys chenopodioides aka Senecia confusus) is in bloom ALL the nectar lovers flock to this vine abandoning the Asclepias and Tithonia, it is hardy to usda zone 9a). Gardening is year around in my zone new Plumbago and Murraya paniculata seedlings are coming up now.

Anderson, IN(Zone 6a)

Top three here seem to be Zinnia ,Spearmint , and Tithonia
All in perennial would be Honeyvine milkweed , bull thistle (biennial) , and any of the mints ,

Algonquin, IL(Zone 5a)

Vitrsna, you're really tempting me with that Mexican Flame Vine. I was reading that some people have had success growing it as an annual in cooler areas. Some even bring it inside during winter.

Ju ~ Mint? What kind of BF?

Anderson, IN(Zone 6a)

Hi ya Nuts There are several that like the spearmint blooms ,
Host plant orange mint moth ,
American snout
pearl crescent
Cabbage White
occasional Buckeye
gray hairsteak
Skippers , smaller ones ,
and the larger silver spotted skipper I have seen on the spearmint also ,
I forgot to add the spearmint is in a place next to the drive , hot dry and not much room , Although I should add that there is a huge clump in the back ,

This message was edited Sep 29, 2015 11:39 PM

Algonquin, IL(Zone 5a)

Thanks! I had no idea. Learn something new every day. :o)

Anderson, IN(Zone 6a)

That reads a little confusing , Only one it is the host for is the moth the others feed regularly on them , all summer and fall in fact ,
Sometimes though as said many times , mints can do the aggressive run over everything , their good here though , just strong , not so aggressive

oops .. and anytime Nuts , , after all you got me trying salvia , lol

This message was edited Sep 30, 2015 12:17 AM

Colima, Mexico(Zone 11)

Hi Nuts, since i am just newly returned to DG, i don't know if Mrs_Ed (Marna) is still participating. She is also somewhere very cold (i think usda zone 5) in Illinois and was trying it out as a container plant that she could cut back in the winter and bring in the house. She was determined. But she was also interrupted with other things going on and i haven't talked to her for awhile so i don't know how that was working for her.

You can grow buddleia where you are? That is a super butterfly nectar plant that i think you can grow but i cannot. It needs a winter, a real one to be successful. It was not at all happy in the tropics.

Just to be mean, here is a photo of part of the Flame Vine in full bloom. You can be mean back at me and send a photo of a Buddleia :-D

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Algonquin, IL(Zone 5a)

Thanks for the clarification, Ju! In this area I think it's still best to grow mint either in pots or in a "bottomless" pot sunk into the ground since it can spread. I've grown it in pots, but not this year. I've never let it bloom, but maybe I should.

Gorgeous shot, vitrsna! Marna hasn't been around for a while, though she did pop in briefly a while back. She lives about an hour or so away from me so if she has success then I probably could as well.

My biggest problem with many of the butterfly plants, Buddleia included, is most of our yard is shady. I really love the trees and they bring more birds, but we don't have a lot sunny areas. Our neighbor recently had to remove a broken tree, which helped and we have to remove a huge Ash that's dying. I hate to lose it, but there may be an upside.

I recently found out about a milkweed native to our area (and most of the eastern U.S.) that grows naturally at the edge of woodland areas so it's somewhat shade tolerant. It's called Asclepias 'exaltata' or "Poke Milkweed". There's still hope for those of us with shady yards. :o)

Colima, Mexico(Zone 11)

Your are right, Nuts, the Flame Vine would also need a sunny spot and something to grow on.

Wow, it is amazing how many Asclepias's there are and how people keep discovering them. The Poke Milkweed would most likely be a winner for you. Six feet tall...that would feed a lot of caterpillars!

This message was edited Sep 30, 2015 8:49 AM

Algonquin, IL(Zone 5a)

Until recently I thought there were about a dozen different species of Milkweed (how's that for naivety?). In reality who knows how many there really are (Monarch Watch says there are over 100!). I wouldn't be surprised if there are many that have never even been discovered yet.

Central, AL(Zone 7b)

It's a pleasant surprise for me, though, the citrus tree isn't hardy in my zone. I was delighted to find butterflies/bees being drawn to the flowers. It's late in the growing season, but bees and butterflies are drawn to the blossoms all the same. Needless to say, I've acquired one. :)

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Algonquin, IL(Zone 5a)


Anderson, IN(Zone 6a)

Maybe Roadside Aster Zinnia , Milkweed vine , All nice and popular ,

Madison, IL(Zone 6b)

Hello butterfly lovers. I have many visitors in late June and early July to my button bush. The moths cover it at night. I will pay more attention to the host plants the next time visiting the Butterfly House as I recently renewed my membership. I need to maintain my butt-puddles better. This is were I fail. Any suggestions?

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