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Honey Bee

Honey Bees

The honey bee is distinguished from other bees by the production and storage of honey and their construction of colonial nests from bees wax. There are seven recognized species, with the most popular being the Western honey bee which has been domesticated for crop pollination and honey production. About 30% of the food consumed on American tables is pollinated by the honey bee; it is the only insect that helps in food production.

Honey Bee Population

Over the last handful of years, the plight of the honey bee has come to light in agricultural and horticultural systems, including the home garden. The honey bee populations are decreasing at an alarming rate and potentially putting food production in danger. As their numbers decrease the impact is felt. Fortunately the honey bee is being seen for the benefits it brings to gardens, fields, nurseries and orchards worldwide. People are becoming more aware of how their choices impact bee populations and changing how they do things.

The honey bee population has been in decline for some time now. Research points to a couple of different causes. One cause is thought to be electromagnetic radiation from cellular towers, mobile devices and wireless internet. This electromagnetic radiation damages the navigational skills of honey bees and prevents them from returning to their hive. Bees navigate by using the vibrations in the air. The magnetic frequencies emitted from the aforementioned devices interfere with their navigational skills. When female worker bees fail to return to a thriving hive, the hive will begin to flounder. An increase in pesticide and fungicide use is also contributing to the demise of honey bees. Some pest and fungal sprays work by directly killing the honey bees. Some affect populations by disrupting their navigational skills – causing colony collapse disorder – or inhibit their ability to reproduce. No matter the way, the honey bee population feels the damaging effects.

Honey BeeHoney Bee Friendly Plants

One of the most important things gardeners can do is to grow plants in their gardens and landscapes that attract honey bees. Giving them a solid source of food will help encourage population growth. Fortunately there are many plants that attract honey bees:

  • Natural wildflowers are a great option to use to bring in honey bees. They are easy to plant, easy to grow and require very little attention to flourish.
  • Berries are a plethora of flowers in a small area. This is a huge attractant for honey bees as it concentrates a large food source for the bees within a limited space.
    • Strawberries
    • Raspberries
    • Blueberries
    • Blackberries
  • Fruit trees are another concentrated source of food in a small expanse.
    • Apples
    • Peaches
    • Cherries
  • Flowering herbs work well to attract bees because of their strong scent.
    • Mint
    • Basil
    • Lavender
    • Oregano
  • Vegetable plants can produce beautiful, yellow flowers that easily attract bees to the home garden.
  • Weeds are another green attractant, although one we try to discourage in our gardens. If possible allow some of these weeds to grow freely, and flower.
    • Dandelions
    • Milkweed
    • Goldenrod

One of the best ways to bring them into a garden is to group plants together to encourage the honey bees. If possible, plant an area about one square yard in size with the same plant to attract them to the area. Pick plants that have a long blooming season to keep bees coming back, and encourage flowers to bloom so the nectar and pollen is available for them to feed on. A water source such as a bird bath, a backyard waterfall, or even a dripping hose will give bees a place to rest and drink.

Honey Bee Safe Chemicals

Equally as important as encouraging bees into a garden, is making sure chemicals applied for pest control are not harmful to the insects. Neem oil, vinegar and Epsom salts such as Epsoak Epsom Salt 19lbs Magnesium Sulfate USP Resealable Bulk Bag are natural alternatives that can be used safely without damaging bee populations. Neem oil is highly effective at repelling garden pests such as aphids, spider mites, and certain plant diseases such as powdery mildew. Both white and apple cider vinegar works extremely effectively as a weed killer due to their high acetic acid content. Fill a spray bottle or watering can with straight vinegar and apply directly to the weeds you’d like to kill. Epsom salts work well at keeping slugs and snails off of garden flowers, and also benefit vegetables because of the magnesium they contain. If absolutely necessary, Spinosad and Pyrethrum can be applied to gardens at dawn or dusk when bees aren’t active. Once the chemical dries, they are no longer harmful to bees.

There are many things home gardeners can do to help encourage honey bee populations. Flowering plants and trees can be added to a garden to attract bees, and bee safe methods can be used to help control pests and weeds instead of harmful chemicals. These thoughtful changes can help to build their populations and in turn ensure the pollination of food crops for human consumption.

Honey Bee2018-11-09T00:58:46-04:00

Plant Diseases

Types of Plant Diseases - Blight

Plant diseases take the fun out of growing a garden which can be extremely fulfilling when seeing your hard work pay off. Taking the time to work the soil beds, adding amendments, planting seeds/plants and then watching them grow through to harvest can instill a great sense of satisfaction. But there are very few things more frustrating, and bewildering, than seeing garden plants succumb to garden pests and plant diseases. To fix them you need to diagnose the cause in order to treat the problem. This plant disease list will hopefully help you identify and treat some common plant diseases.

Types of Plant Diseases

Bacterial Leaf Spot

Miniscule, microscopic single celled organisms are the cause of the visible foliage damage associated with bacterial leaf spot. Early identification is crucial to save plants from extensive damage. Bacterial leaf spot shows up on lettuce, beets, eggplant and pepper plants as dark, necrotic looking spots on foliage. When the bacterial disease attacks the leaf edges, leaves become papery and delicate often breaking off due to the dryness of the tissue. Severe infestation will cause defoliation and severely impact the health of a plant. There are no recognized chemical treatments so prevention and control are important. To prevent bacterial leaf spot make sure to rotate crops, plant disease resistant varieties and avoid overwatering. The best control method is removing infected plant parts to prevent the spread of bacterial leaf spot.


Early Blight

The beginning symptoms of early blight show up as small 1-2mm brown or black lesions on the fruit/stem/foliage of tomatoes, and the stem/foliage/tubers of potatoes. If the conditions are conducive to progressing the small lesions will grow, forming the characteristic “bulls eye” pattern early blight is known for. These concentric rings are often surrounded by a halo of yellow tissue. If lesions are allowed to worsen the entire leaf can become chlorotic and die.  Lesions that form on fruit/tubers appear leathery in nature, often causing premature drop from the plant. Preventative measures include a 3-year crop rotation, promoting good air circulation around the base of the plant, and/or applying a potassium bicarbonate solution to the plants and soil starting approximately two weeks before early blight symptoms occur. Chemical controls are limited – a copper based fungicide being one of the few, albeit expensive, options – and it is highly recommended to remove infected plants entirely and dispose of properly.

Plant Diseases - Tomato Blight

Plant Diseases – Tomato Blight

Late Blight

Late blight also affects tomato and potato plants, spreading quickly and wreaking havoc on a stand of plants. As its name implies it occurs later in the growing season, most often after the plant blossoms. Triggered by rainy, damp weather, late blight causes plants to rot and die if left untreated. Early symptoms look like grayish-green water spots on older leaves; as it matures the spots darken in color and a white fungal growth occurs on the undersides of foliage. Like early blight the chemical controls are limited to expensive copper sprays that work best when the disease is caught early. Often times, an entire stand is infected and plants need to be removed entirely and then disposed.

Bacterial Blight

Similar in symptoms and treatment to late blight in tomatoes and potatoes, bacterial blight is a fungal disease that affects legumes in Eastern and Southern North America. Symptoms appear on foliage and pods as grey water spots that eventually turn necrotic and drop out of the leaf tissue. To control plant resistant cultivars in a 3-year plant rotation; remove and dispose of infected plants to prevent spread to other plants.

Damping Off

Soil borne fungi cause damping off in wet, cool conditions. Seeds or seedling are typically affected by the pathogens; seeds rot before germination or seedlings deteriorate immediately after emergence, causing them to fall over. Damping off can be prevented by ensuring the soil is well amended with organic matter prior to planting, keep the soil damp but not waterlogged, encourage ample air circulation in seeding areas, and make sure the soil is warm enough for that specific seed before planting.

Downy Mildew

Downy mildew affects many vegetable plants, causing the growth of white or purplish “down” on the undersides of foliage. The top side of older leaves may demonstrate patches of white or yellow. Symptoms of downy mildew are exacerbated in cool, wet weather prone to occur in early spring and late fall. Downy mildew affects many vegetables crops and prevention is a critical management method: plant resistant varieties is they exist, water the roots of plants early in the day, avoid overwatering, encourage good air circulation around the base of susceptible plants, and apply copper spray as a preventative every 7-10 days when the weather is cool and wet. Infected plant tissues should be quickly removed and disposed of in an area away from the garden, to reduce contamination of other plants.

Fusarium Wilt

A soil borne pathogen that affects nightshade plants such as tomatoes, potatoes, eggplant and peppers, fusarium wilt is commonly found in gardens all across North America. The plant disease enters through plant roots and interferes with the vessels within the plant that are responsible for water transport. Once in the plant, fusarium wilt spreads up the stem and into the leaves, restricting water flow. Without proper water the foliage wilts and turns yellow. This fungal disease is more rampant in hot, dry weather and can survive for years in the soil. The best methods of control are to remove affected plants quickly and dispose of them away from the gardening area. Also make sure to sterilize gardening implements with a dilute bleach solution to prevent transferring the disease. There are some fumigants available to treat fusarium wilt but many require professional application, making them a costly solution. If the disease persists in a garden area, it may be necessary to sterilize/solarize the soil to kill the pathogens. To do this remove all plant materials and cover the bare ground with black or clear plastic. Allow the plastic to sit on the soil for 4-6 weeks during the hottest part of the summer; the intense sun and heat generated will kill fusarium wilt.

Mosaic Virus

Mosaic virus is a viral disease found all across the United States that affects a wide range of horticultural and vegetable crops: roses, beans, tobacco, tomato, potato, cucumbers, and peppers. Some of the symptoms include yellow, white or green stripes/streaks on foliage, pronounced yellowing of foliage veins, wrinkled/curled or stunted leaves, overall stunting of plant growth and reduced yields. Mosaic virus spreads through the feeding of insect pests and has no cure once a plant is infected. The only treatment option is to remove and destroy anything infected. To minimize infection prevent resistant plant varieties, spot treat with diatomaceous earth around plants as preventative pest control, and avoid using tobacco around susceptible plants as it may harbor the virus.

Powdery Mildew

The most common, widespread fungal disease in plants, powdery mildew attacks vegetable plants, ornamental species, and fruit trees. Hot and dry summer weather favors its spread and it can be difficult to control. Powdery mildew is easy to diagnose; it presents itself as patches of white or light-grey, talcum-like powder on plant leaves and stems. Planting mildew resistant plants, giving them plenty of room for air circulation around the base, and watering the root system – avoiding the foliage – early in the day are great preventative methods. If plants fall victim to this plant fungus, quickly remove and discard infected plant tissues, making sure to not spread fungal spores to other garden/yard areas. Some sources recommend spraying infected plants with a combination of neem oil and soap, mixed in water, but the results vary.


Common rust is a fungal disease typically found on a variety of mature plants: roses, hollyhocks, lilies, snapdragons, tomatoes, beans and lawns. Rust looks like its name implies – reddish-orange spots made up of masses of fungal spores on older, lower leaves of the plant. If untreated these spots can turn yellow to black, deform the entire leaf, and in worse case scenarios cause leaf drop. Garden areas receiving low light (4-8 hours of low intensity sun) are more susceptible to rust diseases; especially when the climate is warm/hot and humid. Cultural methods are the most effective methods of control/prevention: keeping weeds out of the garden bed, allowing good air circulation around the base of plants, watering early in the morning, removing infected leaves when the disease is spotted. An application of neem oil such as Organic Neem Bliss 100% Pure Cold Pressed Neem Seed Oil can kill rust spores on the plant and works well if the disease is caught quickly. Copper sprays and sulfate powders also work well if applied early.

Plant diseases can quickly spread and cause major damage if left untreated and allowed to proliferate in a garden area. Often times there are limited chemical options available for treatment of plant diseases, so preventative methods become even more important for plant disease control. A handful of best management practices can help to reduce the risk of infection: purchase resistant varieties of plants if available, keep garden area free of weeds and debris, water the base/roots of plants early in the day while avoiding overwatering, maintain good air movement around the base of plants and promptly remove and dispose of infected vegetative matter to minimize the spread of infection with these plant diseases.

Plant Diseases2018-12-22T19:21:54-04:00

Rose Garden

The rose garden is a tried and true beauty of landscapes, roses are one of the most widely cultivated garden shrubs. Known for their exquisite blooms and intoxicating fragrance the rose symbolizes love and passion throughout all cultures. There are over one hundred rose flower species known, and thousands of resulting varieties. Although they are popular as commercial cut flowers, roses are best known as for their graceful beauty as outdoor ornamental flowers. Planting a rose garden in your yard can bring that stunning beauty to your personal landscape.

Preparing for a Rose Garden

Rose Flower

Rose Flower

When the idea strikes to beautify the garden with roses, its best to take some time and put together a plan instead of haphazardly throwing plants into the ground. This will ensure the best possible results from the time and money spent.

First off, it’s necessary to look closely at the spot where the rose flower garden is going to be planted. Roses prefer sunny locations that receive at least 8-10 hours of full sun daily and spots protected from harsh wind and cold. Morning sun is better than afternoon sun to help burn off the morning dew, drying leaves and reducing conditions favoring fungal growth.

Roses are tolerant of varying soil conditions/textures but will thrive in slightly-acidic (a pH of 6-6.5), well drained soils that are high in organic matter, such as peat moss, compost or decomposed animal manures. If you are unsure of the soil pH, home kits can be purchased to test the soil or for a fee a sample can be sent to a local county extension office for testing.

Types of Roses for a Rose Garden

There are three main classes of garden roses, based upon history, how the roses grow and their breeding: old roses, modern/hybrid roses, and wild roses.

Old Roses: Old Roses are also known as antique or heritage roses, and have been around for almost 150 years without any changes. They flower once per season and are known for their strong fragrance.

Modern/Hybrid Roses: Modern/hybrid roses are the ones people tend to think of when the vision of a rose comes to mind. They were created by taking the best parts of old roses and selectively breeding to establish new varieties that are brighter, have a specific bloom size and fragrance. Modern/hybrid roses are bred to resist disease and flower longer to provide steady color and beauty in landscapes. Hybrid tea roses are by far the most popular rose grown. Known for their long, sturdy stems and stunning blooms, they are the flowers bought in floral shops and supermarkets.

Wild Roses: Wild roses have been growing, uninhibited and unaltered, for thousands of years with little help from mankind. They have brightly colored hips and typically bloom in shades of red, pink and white. Wild roses are very easy to maintain, are very hardy and bloom once per year.

Within the three classes of roses, there are more than a hundred different species available for purchase. These three classes can be described by 4 different forms they can take: climbing, miniature, shrub, and tree roses. Each form has different spatial requirements and function in a garden landscape.

Climbing Roses:  Climbing roses are great for creating barriers within a landscape, or training over privacy screens. They do not climb like a pea plant will climb a trellis but instead grow long canes, or vines, that can be trained to an arbor or trellis creating beautiful walls of flower within a landscape.

Miniature Roses: Miniature roses are perfect for gardeners who have limited space in their garden. They grow to be about 1-3’ tall and have smaller blooms compared to the other forms. They are ideal for container gardens, or indoor gardens, providing the exquisite beauty of roses in a smaller size.

Shrub Roses: Shrub roses are what people typically think of when the idea of roses in a garden or flowerbed comes to mind. They grow upright, or along the ground, but do not need supports to keep them erect. They are great for landscaping and typically grow to be 4-6’ in height. Shrub roses come in a variety of colors and are usually repeat bloomers, bringing a steady stream of colorful beauty to a garden.

Tree Roses: Tree Roses are formed by grafting a shrub rose onto a towering cane. They require special care needing protection in the winter and careful pruning to maintain their unique shape. Tree roses grow wonderfully in containers.

Orange Rose Garden Flower

Orange Rose Garden Flower

Planting a Rose Garden

When planting a rose garden, pick locations that are well drained and give plants plenty of space to grow. Cover the soil with a layer of mulch 2-4” deep to help retain soil moisture and water well twice a week.

Roses are a summer flower so they will survive on little moisture but flourish when water encourages the root system to grow deep into the soil. Plants grown in containers should be watered at least once a day, if not twice if containers sit in a sunny location, to ensure the soil doesn’t dry out causing undue stress on the plants.

In general, roses are heavy feeders, requiring frequent feeding for optimum growth. Nitrogen will promote lush, green, vegetative growth; phosphorus strengthens the root systems and encourages beautiful blooms; potassium encourages vigorous growth and helps roses protect themselves from pest damage, drought and cold. The choice of an organic or inorganic/synthetic fertilizer lies in the hands of the gardener and their growing philosophy.

A well balanced fertilizer containing all of the nutrients needed for growth is necessary to meet all of the plant needs and should be applied when there is 4-6” of new growth on the plants. For granular fertilizers, apply plant food at the recommended rate every 4-6 weeks during the growing season. Liquid fertilizers are meant to be applied more frequently and are delivered at the time of watering. No matter the type, remember fertilizers are essentially salts and need to be watered well into the soil to prevent damage to the to the roses’ roots.

Rose Garden Care

Single Purple Rose Garden Flower

Single Purple Rose Garden Flower

Besides feeding roses the nutrients they need, it is important to prune plants to achieve maximum blooms. The best time to prune most roses is after the first seasonal frost in the spring but before the plant breaks its dormancy. Pruning can be accomplished in a couple of different ways, with the primary goal to keep the center of the plant open to encourage good air circulation and prevent disease.

Basic pruning involves removing dead, diseased and damaged branches. Cuts should be made on a slant to allow water to run off the wound. For most rose bushes prune the plant down to 6 to 8 healthy canes to produce a plant with good shape. This will also help to prevent overcrowding. Most blooms occur on new wood, with reduced blooms on old canes. Where to cut and how much plant to remove will vary depending on the variety and the rose form.

Roses are a beautiful addition to any garden and the numerous varieties available allow the gardener to creatively design a stunning display of colorful blooms. To garner optimal growth and blooms make sure to plant in sunny spots that have good drainage and air circulation. Fertilize roses with a general purpose, balanced fertilizer or a plant food specific to flowering plants. Prune plants to maintain the best shape and encourage healthy, well spaced blooms. And most important, make sure to take the time to enjoy their delicate fragrance and gorgeous appearance!

Rose Garden2018-12-23T14:28:12-04:00

Home Composting

Home composting is one of the best ways to add organic matter to your garden soil. Many people choose to make their own compost instead of buying it. This allows them to know exactly what goes into the product and also helps to cut down on food/green waste from their homes. Very simply put, home composting is the process of heaping green waste (yard clippings, food scraps) into piles and letting it break down into humus after weeks or months.

What is Home Composting

Home Composting

Home Composting

The composting process is amazingly rich in nutrients and helps immensely to improve soil structure and drainage. It is used extensively in gardening, landscaping, and both commercial horticulture and agriculture applications. Adding compost also aids in ecosystem sustainability by reducing erosion, increasing the soil population of beneficial microbes, and lessening synthetic, chemical inputs such as fertilizers and pesticides.

How to Make a Compost Pile

Making your own compost does entail more than throwing yard and table scraps into a heap in the corner of your garden though. It is important to learn how to start composting and understand the composting methods to produce high quality compost for your garden and flowerbeds.

  • Clear a space in your yard/garden exposing bare earth to start your compost pile on. This will allow worm composting to begin. Earthworms and other beneficial organisms will come up out of the soil into the compost pile. These organisms drive the decomposition process.
  • Spread a layer of straw or twigs down on the bare ground. A couple inches worth of material will suffice, and will help to aerate the pile and provide good drainage.
  • Add materials to be broken down in layers, alternating between wet and dry layers. Wet layers consist of food scraps, tea bags, etc. Dry layers can be straw, dried leaves, sawdust pellets, etc.
  • Incorporate a nitrogen source such as manure or grass clippings. Nitrogen is needed for the decomposition process and will help to activate the pile.
  • Water the pile occasionally, or let natural rainfall do its job. The compost pile should be moist but not overly wet.
  • Cover your compost pile with plastic sheeting, wood, or anything you have available. This will keep extra rainfall from making it too wet while also retaining moisture.
  • Every couple of weeks “turn” the pile with a shovel or pitchfork. This adds oxygen to the pile, a key component in the process.
  • Add new materials by mixing them in when you turn the pile instead of layering them.

There are many options available if you want to purchase a compost bin tumbler or a home composting system, but just having a compost pile in your yard will work just as well. It just needs a little extra help from you as you need to turn it periodically.

Compost Bin

Compost Bin

Best Compost

The secret to maintaining a healthy home composting pile is the correct ratio of carbon to nitrogen. Most decomposable materials are carbon or nitrogen-based to varying degrees (for simplicity sake). Carbon based  materials give compost its light, fluffy body and typically consists of items that are more wood based, or fibrous: dried leaves, branches, stems, sawdust, tree bark, corn stalks, wood ash, pine needles, peat moss. Nitrogen or protein-rich material (manures, food scraps, green leaves) provides the raw materials needed for the enzymatic reactions that must occur. A simple rule of thumb is to make sure your compost pile has 2/3 “brown” (i.e. carbon based materials) and 1/3 “green” (nitrogen based) materials. You always want the ratio to skew towards more carbon than more nitrogen. The brown materials tend to add bulk to the pile without adding a lot of weight and help encourage air circulation, allowing oxygen to penetrate.

As the bacteria in the pile work to break the materials down, it will cause the compost pile to heat up and turn some of the moisture into steam. This is not a problem! Just make sure to actively manage the pile. As the temperature rises in the compost pile it will become necessary to add more water and turn the pile more frequently to allow the process to continue.

Materials to Avoid in Home Composting Pile:

  • Raspberry brambles
  • Big branches
  • Pet waste
  • Meat
  • Bones
  • Dairy products
  • Diseased plants
  • Fats or oils
  • Pressure treated wood
  • Black walnut leaves or twigs

When your compost is ready to use it will look, feel and smell like really, really dark soil. Your pile will have shrunk significantly in size to about one-half its original size and none of the original materials will be recognizable. The pile will no longer be generating heat the way it did when the process was active.

Benefits of Composting

Making your own compost is a great way to break down yard and kitchen scraps while creating a product that will greatly enhance the quality of your garden. Compost will add nutrients and beneficial microbes to the soil while increasing the drainage, and enhancing the soil structure.

Home Composting2018-03-16T22:57:16-04:00

Butterfly Garden

A Butterfly Garden is very peaceful and cathartic. Sitting in the garden, enjoying the beautiful flowers and watching vibrantly colored butterflies flutter around, dancing on the breeze. Butterfly gardening is the art of planting species that will entice them into your yard, and is growing in popularity. With a few simple tips you can encourage the beauties to take up residence in your butterfly garden.

The most important aspect to a butterfly garden is planting species that attract the butterflies. There are two types of butterfly garden plants they need: ones that provide nectar for the adults to eat (nectar plant), and those that provide food for their young (host plant). After plants have been chosen, encourage blooming seasons to last as long as possible, lengthening the feeding window for butterflies.

Butterfly Garden

Butterfly on Flower

Butterfly Garden Plants

The following list details some of the most popular garden butterfly plants to attract butterflies.

Aster Flower

Aster Flower – Growing upwards of 6’ tall, with dozens of blooms on a single plant, asters make a great addition to any butterfly garden. Asters are daisy-like perennials that bring a variety of colors to your garden throughout the entire growing season.

Bee Balm

Bee Balm – A north-American native perennial, butterflies, bees, and hummingbirds alike are highly attracted to the bee balm plant. Bee balm grows up to 4’ tall and produces brightly colored tubular blooms that are a fantastic nectar source. Deadheading flowers after blooms are spent will encourage a second round of blooms.

Black-Eyed Susan

Black-Eyed Susan – A fantastic native plant, black-eyed susans are an incredibly drought resistant perennial. Their blooms of yellow and orange draw in butterflies and hummingbirds to feed on their nectar.


Coneflower – This daisy-like perennial blooms midsummer and are relatively drought tolerant, making them a great addition to gardens in hot climates. Also know as Echinacea, coneflowers make great cut flowers as well and are a popular deterrent for deer.


Dogbane – Similar in appearance to some milkweed varieties, dogbane plays an important role in butterfly gardens. Dogbane plants are a great nectar source for butterflies early in the season before many other plants are blooming. Classified as perennial, this herb is known for its clusters of dainty, bell-shaped pink flowers.


Goldenrod – Often considered a weed by gardeners, goldenrod is primarily found in open areas such as prairies, and meadows. Goldenrod plants do have many useful properties though and are finding their way into garden landscapes. These late-blooming plants are known for their ability to attract butterflies, bees and hummingbirds and also have many healing properties. Planting goldenrod near vegetable gardens will draw insect pests away from valuable plants.


Hollyhocks – An impressive plant in a butterfly garden, hollyhock stems can reach a staggering 9’ tall under the right growing conditions! This adds a lovely vertical element to a gardening space. Hollyhocks are a short lived perennial; most varieties will need to be replaced every 2-3 years. One benefit however to growing hollyhocks is their ability to reseed themselves. If left to go to seed, under appropriate conditions, they will continually grow new plants.

Lupine Flower

Lupine Flower – Available as both annuals and perennials, lupines are a butterfly garden favorite. Lupine plants develop stiff, erect spires of flowers that can reach 4’ in height. Purple is the most common variety but lupine but can found in a wide range of colors.


Milkweed – Although a very useful plant, common milkweed is often treated as a weed and removed from gardens and landscapes. Milkweed contains a mildly poisonous, sticky sap within its leaves and stem. This bitter taste deters many of the animals and insects that try to feed on its leaves. Butterflies however, are immune to this toxin. By feeding exclusively on milkweed plants, butterflies can accumulate enough of this poison in their bodies to make them taste bitter to their predators.

Pansy Flowers

Pansy Flowers – Known for their colorful “faces”, pansies have one of the widest ranges of colors and thrive well in containers, or when planted in ground. They are treated as annual plants due to their legginess but will come back if left to go to seed. Pansies prefer sun, but like cooler temperatures. They also need plenty of water to thrive.

Russian Sage

Russian Sage – The purple blooms of Russian sage, when paired with the delectable fragrance, make this perennial plant a proven butterfly attractant in any garden. Its silvery foliage and small purple flowers will draw butterflies into the landscape in a single season.

Shasta Daisy

Shasta Daisy – Similar in looks to the wild daisy found along roadsides, the Shasta daisy is a classic perennial. Its blooms are larger and more robust than the wild variety, blooming in gorgeous clumps that grow 2-3’ tall and 1-2’ wide. Shasta daisies are easy to care for, requiring deadheading as needing and dividing every 3-4 years to promote plant vigor.

Snapdragon Flowers

Snapdragon Flowers – A cool season flower, snapdragons add beautiful color to gardens early in the spring and then again in fall. Snapdragons are available in most colors, to coordinate or contrast with other garden plants. Their tall spikes make for a longer blooming period than many other plants.


Verbena – This versatile plant makes it home in many gardens due to its ability to thrive in hot conditions and its tendency to attract butterflies. Verbenas have a long blooming season, and come in a variety of colors. Adult butterflies are drawn to the nectar-rich verbena flowers, while the plant overall acts as a deterrent for deer and rabbits.

Zinnia Flowers

Zinnia Flowers – One of the easiest annuals to grow, zinnias provide a wealth of color in a garden landscape as well as attracting butterflies. Zinnias grow best from seed and require little care other than deadheading flowers as needed.

At one time, butterfly bushes were widely recommended for butterfly gardens. The popular garden varieties imported from China are now being classified as invasive species, or even noxious weeds, in many areas as they are crowding out native food that is essential to local wildlife (butterflies and birds specifically). There are some non-invasive American varieties of butterfly bushes that can be purchased. Check with your local garden center or county extension office for more information.

There are many plants available – a variety of annual and perennial species – that can be planted in a garden to draw in butterflies. Some plants draw them in by providing food for butterfly larvae, others entice butterflies with their nectar. Planting a variety of the above plants will give butterflies plenty of feeding sources in your garden, encouraging them to stick around.

Butterfly Garden2018-03-16T23:39:33-04:00