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what is the best time to plant a butterfly garden?

We live in san diego, I am getting grass put in today and have left a large patch (about 8ft by 15ft) free so that I might plant a butterfly garden or other type of flower garden soon. This is my first garden and I am hoping to get my 3 year old involved so I need something colorful, easy and robust. The space gets about 6-7 of sun a day with a little shady spot further down, next to citrus tree. Any advice on what I should plant? or if a butterfly garden is appropriate this time of year?

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5 Responses to “what is the best time to plant a butterfly garden?”

  1. fair2midlynn

    Autumn is the best time for planting a butterfly garden (also spring) Sages are excellent plants-also called salvia; milkweed is one of their favorites; buddleia davidii-butterfly bush; lavender-just to name a few.

  2. Big Al
  3. Rob E

    Depending on where you’re situated, autumn/fall and spring are great times to prepare and plant your butterfly garden. Fall is my generally recommended period.

    Some plants that butterflies love are tender or annuals, and so would be planted in spring time, if you get cold winter weather. I know that you have a Citrus tree, so assume that it’s reasonably mild, but I do some gardening in Louisiana where we still got some good freezes, yet have Citrus galore around us.

    Generally, most herbaceous and shrubby plants are better planted in fall, as this allows them to continue rooting through to spring and the following summer, making them better able to withstand summer heat and drought. They should also flower better, and be larger plants by that time, than if planted in spring.

    Generally the easiest thing for children to marvel at, as well as the wildlife you attract, are plants that transform themselves quickly, such as seeds that sprout, grow and flower in the first year. Many of these are annuals that live and die that first year, though will often grow longer in areas where the winter isn’t as severe – many in the Bay area, such as Nasturtiums, will gladly live all year round.

    Probably one of the easiest plants to grow, that butterflies love are Buddleias where they will swarm to them whilst in flower. These come in a range of colours too, adding interest – http://www.jparkers.co.uk/images/new_products/HG0103.jpg Many Sedums are so simple too, and very easy from cuttings. Buddleias are shrubs, whilst Sedums are small herbaceous plants, that die back in winter, returning in spring. Your child could help you plant the shrub, help prune it hard in spring – do this every year for prolific flowers, and could take some cuttings from Sedums, as well as help you to plant them. Probably the first cutting I made, as a child, was a Sedum spectabile. http://images.suite101.com/970743_com_sedum.jpg http://www.robsplants.com/images/portrait/SedumSpectabile040903.jpg

    So, assuming that you’re in the northern hemisphere, now is a great time to be preparing and planting many of your plants. Save some space for some annuals, that you could sow next year – I find Sunflowers are loved by butterflies, and these are fun and easy for children too. Marigolds are pretty easy too, and loved by butterflies.

    Another point to bear in mind is that butterflies need somewhere to lay their eggs and are often fairly fussy about which plants to use. If you grow plants for their caterpillar and also adult attraction to flowers, then you should get the greatest success. Perhaps research those butterflies that are local to you, and then which plants they prefer to use for egg laying/caterpillar munching as well as visiting as adults for the nectar. There’s a list of some butterflies and their likes here – http://butterflywebsite.com/butterflygardening.cfm http://www.thebutterflysite.com/butterfly-food.shtml

    Hope this helps. Good luck! Rob

  4. Jack7

    in the spring

  5. Herbie

    Catmint (nepeta) is a good butterfly perennial. Sedum Spectabile is a winner for late summer and autumn Both these like full sun so don’t put them under the tree. Both these can be planted in autumn if the ground is suitable but it might be better to wait until spring now. (Don’t know what the climate’s like in San Diego)

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