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Tios for creating your own butterfly , hummingbird garden

A garden enhanced by butterflies and hummingbirds is one of nature’s great treats.

Kathy Varn, manager and horticulturist at Taylor’s Landscape Supply in greater Bluffton, said anyone can create their own butterfly or hummingbird garden with a little planning.

“Ideally, butterflies like morning to mid-afternoon sun, not the hot afternoon sun,” Varn said. “The soil needs to consist of some sand as they like to puddle and get the nutrients from the sand.”

Varn said plants with vibrant colors such as reds, oranges, pinks and yellows are desirable. Popular plants include phlox, lantana, verbena, milkweed, black eyed-Susan, daylilies, yarrow, marigolds, impatiens, zinnias and hibiscus, Varn said.

Another plant that is butterfly and hummingbird friendly is the purple-blue plumbago. Even though the milkweed plant is not as showy as other plants, it has it’s appeal.

“More than anything, the nectar in the milkweed that it puts out is what the butterflies love,” Varn said.

Master gardener Sue Roderus, past president of the Sun City Avant-Gardener’s club, was active in planning the Community Hummingbird Butterfly Garden. She said certain host plants attract certain butterflies, so choose accordingly.

“The host plants are those that the female butterfly lays eggs on and the caterpillar eats. They are specific to every butterfly, so learn which plant is the host plant of the butterfly you are trying to attract,” she said. Some of her favorites include milkweed for attracting monarch and queen butterflies; passion vine for attracting gulf fritillary and zebra longwing; and cloudless sulfur, toothache tree and citrus for attracting giant swallowtails.

Herbs also can attract butterflies. Roderus prefers parsley, dill and fennel to attract black swallowtails.

Adult butterflies require food, or nectar, and the best environment for nectar plants is in full sun, as butterflies feed mostly in the middle of the day.

Butterflies and hummingbirds can cross over and enjoy each other’s plants, but in general, hummingbird gardens have their own requirements, Roderus said.

“Mostly, (hummingbird plants) should be tubular or trumpet flowers. Some of my favorites are salvias, bee balm, honeysuckle, butterfly bush, trumpet vine and fuchsia,” Roderus said.

Here are a few other tips for attracting butterflies and humminbirds.

  • Provide a source of water and a mix of sun and shade.

  • Select plants with small, tubular flowers with flat rims that are fragrant. Plants with long periods of available bloom are best. Groupings of the same plant are preferable as butterflies find plants by sight and smell.

  • Indigenous plants are best, and hybrid doesn’t always mean ideal. Roderus said hybrids sometimes produce less nectar than the native varieties.

  • Avoid using insecticides on butterfly or hummingbird plants.

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