What's your recommended plant or plants?

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  • #35432


    Hi everyone

    For the Summer magazine we’re looking at running an article on a highly recommended plant for someone who is creating butterfly habitat from scratch. And there’s a twist to the story… they don’t have much money (so they can’t go and buy lots of things from a garden centre).

    What are your recommendations?

    Your mission, should you decide to accept it, is to share your thoughts on useful plants for a new butterfly garden or habitat. They don’t have to be Monarch butterflies. The plants should be cheap or even better, free. They could be nectar, they could be host – or they could even create shelter.

    As always, should you or any of your Mission Impossible Force be caught or killed the Secretary will disavow any knowledge of your actions. This tape will self-destruct in five seconds. Good luck.

Viewing 11 replies - 1 through 11 (of 11 total)
  • Author
  • #35906


    Comments on loquat trees? Eriobotrya japonica… someone said that they’re great for butterflies.



    (Eupatorium sordidum) I tried to grow this years ago dug it up from the Waitaks brought it home , wouldn’t grow, so not sure why it is a weed 🙂



    I find the Admirals spend more time feeding at the potted scabiosa flowers in the butterfly house than the other flowers. Heliotrope and Lantana montevidensis are a couple of the others which I use.



    Te Puna Quarry Park our best nectar plant that flowers all through the summer is a single orange dahlia Wylde Green when I release butterflies they fly straight to the plants,there is another collorette call Pooh which is almost as good I am going to trial a selection of colorettes this season.
    Wall flowers another good cut and come again nectar plant easy to propagate Tramp.



    Argyranthemum daisies or federation daisies are very easy from cuttings and tend to flower here (Palmerston North) all winter. On fine days there the butterflies hang around these. Most neighborhoods have heaps of them and if you ask for a cutting ot two most people are very obliging.
    Sunflowers – couldn’t be easier from seed and not expensive for a packet.
    Asters – easy as!

    I have grown Joe-Pye weed (Eupatorium) here and although the butterflies love it, it does self seed easily and is a listed weed in most parts of NZ, so please don’t. If you have butterflies around they WILL nectar on something else.

    Remember too that if you have some host plants for the caterpillars, the resulting butterflies will nectar on all kinds of common weeds including dandelions and the bellis daisies in your lawn



    I would LOVE some more ideas for this article – whether they are nectar, host or even shelter.

    I have seen a plant today growing in the Waitakeres and it looks very similar to Ageratum but much bigger (flowers and height, could be 1-2 metres), large round leaves, and growing beside the road in what would be considered semi-shade/cold/damp conditions. Wondering if it’s related to Joe Pye Weed, and find its common name is Mistflower and it’s a problem weed (Eupatorium sordidum)so it won’t be coming into my garden. Anyway, I don’t know if it is good for nectar… I have never heard of butterflies nectaring on it or bees for that matter.

    So what do you have in your garden that is the easiest to share with others? And whereabouts are you too – obviously for this article to be of any use, people need to know where you are.



    My cheapest source for cuttings and plants is Trade Me, I picked up Buddleia cuttings, Arctotis plants, Hollyhock plants, etc for very reasonable prices, the killer can be the postage if the trader is greedy, so you have to shop around for better postage for us rural people. In the main I find that traders selling cuttings and plants tend to be wonderful people who often send extra at no charge, often just to fill the bag up or to ensure that SOME survive.

    My cheapest source for seeds can sometimes be Trade Me, but more often I buy from eBay – you can buy bigger quantities and as many seed packets, prices from $NZ1 to $NZ3, as you want for one postage cost of around $NZ4 and they usually arrive within a fortnight.

    Other than these, if I was in a city I would probably check out all the neighbours and ask for cuttings which would be free, or I would offer to swap my cuttings for theirs.

    (First I have heard about hebes, I’m off to check them out. I bought 3 different species of Joe Pye weed seeds from, you guessed it, America.)



    Joy pye weed available in NZ:


    http://www.fragrantgarden.co.nz/herbs_perennials.htmlEupatorium purpureum Joe Pye Weed Smoky pink flower tall over 1m perennial 5.20



    I didn’t realise we could get Joe Pye weed in New Zealand. They use it a lot in America. Must follow this up.

    My favourite nectar plants are hebes. You can get varieties that flower at different times, so you can have year-round nectar flowers. Plants can be bought cheaply, or you can grow from cuttings. And there are small profusely flowering varieties now, in a range of colours: white through pink, mauve and deepest violet purple. I love the original Koromiko (Hebe stricta) myself, with its long delicate elegant racemes of white flowers, but it can grow a bit big and leggy if you’re into tidiness, or limited for space.



    Joe pye weed (any type).
    Verbena Bonariensis and any other Verbena types.



    Liatris spicata (gayfeather or blazing star, purple or white flowers)
    Cosmos (purple, pink, red and orange coloured)
    Echinacea purpurea (purple, white, red, yellow, orange).
    Zinnia (almost any colour)
    Tithonia speciosa (Mexican sunflower)

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