Butterfly Magnets

“Butterfly Magnets”, a copyrighted post, was written for my WordPress blog called Always Growing by Jan in Covington, Louisiana

Butterflies. Everyone wants them in the garden. Gardening practices and plant selection can ensure that they visit often. With the drought we had this summer, we did not have many flowers to attract the butterflies until a few weeks ago. Rain and cooler temperatures brought out the flowers on what can only be described as a butterfly magnet – lantana. This plants flowers attracts all butterflies, but the one that seems to be around the most is my personal favorite, the Gulf Fliterary. And flit, this little orange butterfly does. It quickly moves from flower to flower. It particularly loves lantana. In fact, I first planted lantana to attract these little guys.

They like all lantana, but the Gold Mound I have planted in the circle garden seems to attract them the most.



Lantana thrives in hot dry weather and will grow in poor soils as is shown by how readily the common orange one shows up all over.



While many people dislike this one, I do have two volunteers growing in my garden. I keep them cut back (they do grow tall) and now that orange is a color I am starting to like more and more, they are fitting in well with a few orange flowering plants (canna and daylilies), and the butterflies do like the flowers.

Another lantana growing in my garden is a raspberry-pink colored one.



This one has been in my garden for ages, and unfortunately I don’t remember the name. All of the lantanas are perennial here on the Gulf Coast. They lose their leaves in the cold weather, but they return every spring. This one, however, is the last to come back. I don’t know if that is because of its location, or it is a characteristic of this color.

The pink is another one that can grow quite large. This I brought from my mother’s garden in the mid 70’s when I moved here. I believe this was the first lantana I noticed that was not the common old orange.



The last one to enter my garden was a white lantana I bought about two years ago. I have this growing in two large containers. In the spring, when I transplant my Iceberg roses, I am going to plant these white lantana just in front of those three roses. I think they will cover up the bare area at the base of the roses quite well.



Lantana does best in full sun, and mine are in raised beds which provides the good drainage they like. Older selections can get very tall (I keep mine trimmed back), but the newer selections stay under two feet tall. It is reported that with a good layer of mulch, these will survive in a zone 7.

Here in the Deep South where we do not really have fall leaf color, lantana helps give late year color interest. You can’t beat a plant that blooms so profusely in hot weather from spring until frost and attracts butterflies like a magnet.

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