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Fall Flowers that Attract Butterflies

Fall Flowers that Attract Butterflies 

When other blooms are past their prime, looks to these fall flowers that attract butterflies to keep your garden alive with color.

“By the time summer’s finale fizzles and lovingly tended garden plants fade, many avid gardeners are ready to throw in the trowel. But there are many plants well beyond traditional garden mums that save their best for last. By adding a few of these “late bloomers” to your garden, you’ll extend the flowering season, plus beautify your backyard by attracting butterflies!”

“Although we see butterflies mostly in the spring and summer, it’s important to remember that many still have a very strong need for nectar sources in the fall.”

“Monarchs, for example, migrate thousands of miles and need good nectar sources along the way to successfully arrive at their overwintering sites in Mexico and southern California.”

  • Long bloomers like lantana and salvia are great for attracting fall butterflies.

  • Fall-blooming asters are perfect for attracting butterflies when other blooms have faded.
  • Even butterflies that don’t migrate could use extra nourishment in fall.

“Many other butterflies overwinter in various life stages,” Celia says. “Some overwinter as eggs, and the adults that lay them need that extra nutritional boost at the end of the season to produce large numbers of healthy eggs that can withstand the winter. Late-blooming flowers, or even a second round of summer nectar plants, help these butterflies get a boost.”

“Many flowers produce nectar, which adult butterflies feed on, but some do a better job than others of attracting them. For my garden, I try to stick with plants that have orange, red, purple, yellow and pink blossoms. When selecting plants, remember that bigger isn’t always better. Short-tubed flowers that grow in clusters—like lantana, sedum and pentas—are particularly effective because it’s easy for the butterflies to reach the nectar. Plus, an oversized hibiscus flower actually yields less nectar than many diminutive blossoms. For the best results, plant butterfly-friendly flowers in groups. These insects prefer a healthy stand of flowers where they can linger over a meal rather than flit from one solitary specimen to another.”

  • Fortunately, there are many flowers that attract butterflies and suitable for almost any garden. Here are a few:

Sedums. These easy-to-grow plants actually prefer poor gravelly soils in a sunny spot with good drainage. Many species are available, and depending on where you live, they can be annuals, evergreens, semi-evergreens or hardy. The name of one of the top picks, Autumn Joy, says it all.

Pink and purple asters. These plants can reach heights of 24 to 60 inches, but shearing in late May will produce a pleasing, compact mound with loads of daisy-like blooms. Depending on species and location, asters can be annuals, perennials or biennials.

Salvia. This group of perennials and annuals bloom until the first hard frost. There are lots of species to choose from, and all produce long tubular blossoms that attract swallowtails, fritillaries and other butterflies with long proboscises needed to extract the nectar.

Lantana. Clusters of these small tubular flowers are a favorite of butterflies. They’re often grown as annuals in colder regions, and will begin blooming in summer and last well into fall until there’s a killing frost. In milder regions, lantana may grow into a shrub that’s 6 feet tall.

Penta. These plants are not hardy to Canadian or American winters in most areas, but are annuals that butterflies love. The clusters of star-shaped flowers are often seen in brilliant red and are perfect for growing in beds, borders and even containers on a patio.

Dark Night Bluebeard. In fall, this deciduous shrub, botanically known as Caryopteris x clandonensis ‘Dark Night,’ produces clusters of gorgeous deep-blue flowers set off by silvery-green foliage. It grows 3 to 4 feet tall, with a similar spread, and is hardy in Zones 5 to 9. Once established, it’s drought-tolerant, too.



Butterflies by the Handful…. No Fist Bumps…



Life as Art... and a bit of nonsense...



Just when I thought I was catching up…

It’s been a day of sunny skies cut apart by sudden dark clouds and downpours… I wanted to enjoy the glory of it more. But despite the implementation of fist bumps in our house hold… I have caught a nasty summer cold from my children. It turns out that no matter how much you wash your hands or avoid germ filled hand shakes, it is all to naught when your ten year old son coughs in your face… so, there it is.

But caterpillars must be fed, butterflies must be released and kittens must be played with… However, the laundry I will ignore… for now.  Because once I am done with this… I am going to collapse into my bed… with a box of tissues… and dream that no one yells, “Mommy!”


Back to the numbers…. My Monarch Journal ……

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Butterflies by Numbers…

Life as Art... and a bit of nonsense...



Summer has been busy… butterflies, kittens, art, improv, children, love, poetry, drama, life in general… time flies faster than the monarchs I release.  The weeds in my garden have gotten knee high, and the aphids have won in my alley side milkweed patch… which distresses me greatly… *sigh* … and as I sit here, a kitten nibbling on my toe, I notice that the caterpillars are hungry… Their supply of milkweed needs to be replenished… So, I must leave my writing for a moment or two… Pardon me, while I step out outside………………………………………………….


Okay… I’m back.  That took about half an hour… Oh, and while I was outside wandering around barefoot in my garden, with scissors in one hand and milkweed in the other, I saw a large male monarch soaring through the sky. Fifteen feet in the air, with strong downstrokes he carried not only his own…

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