Even in harsh drought, my perennial asters never fail. Just a few drops of rain prompted their annual performance this week.
I’m glad I took a chance last year on a new addition, Globe mallow Sphaeralcea ambigua ‘Louis Hamilton’.
I’ll admit that sometimes I regret my exuberant passion vine, since it takes over the world. Then, it brings a whirl of butterflies and other insects to fuel up in its flower nectar. Plus, I’ve watched countless new generations, thanks to the leaves that host the larval nursery. Truly, the gift that keeps on giving!
Lepidopterophobia: Fear of butterflies. Hmm, hard to imagine. I DO know that caterpillars scare the garden pants off some folks. But the stork didn’t bring this Swallowtail larva to the dill at Travis County Extension.
Another fear: tidiness in all seasons. To get the butterflies to your house in the first place, that can mean some plants that are messy or dormant between beauty pageants. That includes native milkweeds (Asclepias) and Mexican A. curassavica, nectar hosts for all, and exclusive breeding grounds for Monarchs.
A. curassavica, including a gold variety, is usually what you’ll find at nurseries.
Mexican or Texas wild olive (Cordia boissieri) is a lovely large shrub or small tree that draws butterflies to its flowers and birds to the eventual fruits.
Cordia parvifolia is a smaller, little-leafed version with similar flowers.
Some, like passionflower (passion vine) can go nuts, like this tower on my Purple Martin house. Mine’s not native, though bought locally, but is usually busy as a nectar flower and foliage larval food. Business has been slow in this drought, but it’s picking up.
I expect flyby customers soon, since my Barbados cherry (Malpighia glabra) is cloaked in flower food. Foliage is larval food for some Skippers and Cassius Blue butterfly.
Right now, my drought-tough native golden groundsel (Packera obovata) is a pretty groundcover in part shade. As early as February, its flowers feed little bees and butterflies, including Bordered Patch.
One I can’t have is Mexican primrose-willow (Ludwigia octovalvis), host plant for the Water-primrose hornworm moth. Blooming July – August, it likes moist soils or ponds. I got this shot at The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.
My first go-to guide for butterflies was Geyata Ajilvsgi’s Butterfly Gardening for the South. I refer to it often, so I’m thrilled about her new edition, Butterfly Gardening for Texas!
This week, Geyata joins Tom to take a look at things from a butterfly’s perspective.
She reveals how flowers attract butterflies through color and nectar guides, like on this Devil’s claw (Proboscidea louisianica fragrans).
Find out why we want to add over-ripe fruit to their diet and create puddling spots for males.
Through Geyata’s conversational and even poetic narrative, Butterfly Gardening for Texas packs in the facts, paired with her beautiful photographs, how-to templates and designs.
In Butterfly Profiles, see who’s in your garden and discover its life cycle, range, nectar and larval food, flight time, mimics, and rituals.
Geyata profiles plants by trees, shrubs, vines, and herbs, including cultivation and propagation details. Under Larval Plant Profiles, we learn that Common Checkered Skipper feeds on Globe mallow (Spharelcea coccinea).
In Nectar Plant Profiles, find out more about Verbena bonariensis.
There’s so much more!
What impacts nectar and fragrance?
Plant lists for native and non-natives and the butterflies they attract
On tour,Anne Bellomy planted grass for the butterflies—but it’s not the type you mow. The native clumping grasses, like Lindheimer mulhy and deer muhly, make nice hide-outs for butterflies.
In her small yard, see how she turned a one-dimensional lawn into four seasons of layered habitat with mostly drought tough native plants.
Oh yes, speaking of drought: on Oct. 26, April Rose from TreeFolks staggers us with the number of trees lost in just a few years and what we can do about it. This week, John Dromgoole demonstrates watering devices to irrigate your trees efficiently and effectively for us and our wildlife.
Ah, early renewal! Hot days aren’t over yet, but plants are as ready as we are to get back to work. Actually, skeleton-leaf goldeneye daisy never takes vacation.
It handles my (composted) clay soil just fine, always looks good, and attracts beneficial insects with late spring and fall flowers. It would bloom in summer too, but it was a “tad dry” for me this round. This shot with Salvia greggii is at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, but I made a similar match.
Sure, you know HCWG&N for ponds, fountains, and streams.
They’ve also got unique landlubbers suited just for us. Since now’s primetime to put the pedal to the metal (shovel), Nathan banishes our summer blues. One he promotes in good drainage is Gopher plant (Euphorbia rigida) that pairs well with agaves, like this A. parryi. Great in containers, too.
If you’d like a yucca but don’t have tons of room, isn’t this Yucca gloriosa ‘Tiny Star’ a cutie? Beyond is groundcover Silver ponyfoot (Dichondra argentea).
Peter’s Purple monarda (bee balm) is a perennial sensation. This guy’s tall—possibly hitting 4’—with vibrant late spring/early summer flowers that are irresistible to bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds. I’m planning to include some next to a silvery cenizo. Won’t that be a knock out?
For shady spots, Nathan shows off African hosta (Drimiopsis maculata). I LOVE mine. They’re evergreen in protected containers. In the ground, they go dormant in winter, but return very fast.
A bit of sunlight brings out their burgundy spots. In my case, it’s when they emerge in late winter and the deciduous trees send more sunlight their way. Their bulbs multiply fast and are easy to divide. And so drought tough.
Oh yea, it’s time to plant trees in the next few months, so consider one of Nathan’s favorites for another silvery look: Texas mountain laurel ‘Silver Peso.’
Here’s some of Nathan’s handiwork in a creative succulent container, perfect timing for the ACL Festival. Check out the little beer bottles, too. Nathan’s one for details, I’ll say that! But I think she is missing her wrist band. . .
Along with breaking up forbidding barriers and dealing with drainage issues, he restored wildlife with drought tough plants. Mexican bush sage (Salvia leucantha), is an outstanding fall blooming perennial that you can plant now.
I absolutely love this native pink fairy-duster (Calliandra eriophylla) but I’ll admire this deer-resistant desert plant from afar. I tried it in my soil and it sent me a very mean exit letter (though it didn’t make a dancing video)! Sun and rockier or gravelly conditions: you’re good to go.
Russell gave the back some depth and personality. Here we’ve got dwarf Mexican olive (Cordia), bamboo muhly, Salvia greggii, Bat-face cuphea and cotoneaster. AND, here’s Russell’s plant list.
Well golly, you’ve just got to see it all!
In the vegetable garden, it’s time to plant garlic! John Dromgooleshows how to do it, including elephant garlic, for a tasty sensation beyond supermarket versions.
Daphne’s out of town this week, but she’d tell us: It’s time to divide your bearded iris. Cut off rhizomes that are rotting or have borer holes. Pluck off the young offsets to re-plant. Lightly fertilize with a high phosphorous blend or bone meal to encourage beautiful blooms next spring!