in Tucson, Phoenix
Arizona and California

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Butterfly Garden Tips

Gardening in Tucson, Phoenix

Arizona and California

Butterfly Garden Tips and Plants

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Digging Holes for Plants
Fruit: Selection, Cultivation
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Plant Placement
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Reakirt's Blue butterfly

Butterfly Garden Design

Group garden flowers in masses to attract the attention of passing butterflies.
Select a combination of garden plants that bloom at different times of the year.
Know which butterflies live in your area and which flowers they prefer. Some plants attract butterflies of all species, such as Lantana and Salvia greggii (Autumn Sage). Other plants tend to attract butterflies of selected species. The Asclepias (Milkweeds) and Conoclinium greggii (Gregg's Mistflower) attract mostly Queen and Monarch butterflies.
Use both caterpillar food plants and nectar plants to lure adult butterflies. Female butterflies look for a suitable food plant on which to lay their eggs.
Offer pieces of overripe fruit. This attracts butterflies such as the Empress Leilia that are attracted to rotting fruit and tree sap but rarely flowers.
Furnish windbreaks.
Provide shade for hot days.
Install flat rocks for resting places in both morning sun and all day shade.
Supply damp soil from which butterflies can absorb salts and nutrients.
If a garden plant seems to have too many caterpillars, either put in additional plants of the same type or pick off the excess caterpillars. These surplus caterpillars can be dumped in a bucket of soapy water. Getting rid of caterpillars, however, reduces the number of butterflies.
Avoid using pesticides. They harm butterflies and hummingbirds. Let birds remove the bugs, or spray them off with water.

Butterfly Garden Plants

Aloysia gratissima: Whitebrush
Small white flowers clustered on spikes with strong vanilla smell.

Checked Anisacanthus quadrifidus var. wrightii: Flame Acanthus
Reddish-orange, tubular flowers.

Aristolochia watsonii: Southwestern Pipevine
A vine hosting the caterpillar of the Pipevine Swallowtail Butterfly.

Checked Asclepias linaria: Pineneedle Milkweed
Green leaves resemble pine needles. Small white flowers in clusters.

Checked Asclepias subulata: Desert Milkweed
A shrub with long, narrow, upright blue to green stems. Small yellow to white odd-shaped flowers in clusters.

Checked Asclepias tuberosa: Butterfly Milkweed
Small bright orange or yellow flowers in terminal clusters.

Reakirt's Blue
Reakirt's Blue butterfly

Barkleyanthus salicifolius: Willow Ragwort
Yellow flowers with pale orange centers.

Caesalpinia pulcherrima: Red Bird of Paradise
Flowers with yellow, orange and red petals.

Calliandra californica: Baja Fairy Duster
Flowers are bright red clustered stamens that resemble miniature dusters.

Checked Conoclinium greggii: Gregg's Mistflower
Fluffy lavender flowers are a magnet for Queen and Monarch male butterflies.

Erigeron divergens: Spreading Fleabane
One-inch wide flowers with narrow white rays and yellow centers.

Justicia spicigera: Mexican honeysuckle
Orange, tubular flowers.

Checked Lantana camara: Lantana
Small flowers clustered into hemispheres of various colors. Some cultivars frequently attract butterflies.

Lantana montevidensis: Trailing Lantana
Small purple flowers in rounded clusters.

Salvia coccinea: Scarlet Sage
Bright red flowers, long blooming.

Checked Salvia greggii: Autumn Sage
Red flowers, long blooming.

Salvia microphylla: Blackcurrent Sage / Littleleaf Sage
Red and white flowers.

Tagetes lemmonii: Lemmon's Marigold
Aromatic leaves. Yellow flowers with orange centers.

Thymophylla pentachaeta: Golden Dyssodia
Yellow daisy-like flowers in abundance. Lacy green leaves.

Zinnia acerosa: Desert Zinnia
White flowers with yellow eye.

Checked = These plants receive the most butterfly visits.

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