By Cristi McKee | Photo: Cristi McKee
Spring is in full swing here in Tallahassee, and that means that butterflies, especially monarch butterflies and caterpillars, all over town are looking for flower gardens to eat at. Tallahassee is home to many plants and flowers that monarchs are attracted to and will visit in your very own yard if they see them. Read below to find out which plants you can grow and stock up on, and what to do if you would like to attract monarchs to your yard.
Plant native milkweed — There are 3 types of native milkweed that you can plant, butterfly milkweed (asclepias tuberosa) and two varieties of swamp milkweed (A. incarnata and A. perennis) that will attract monarch caterpillars and butterflies. All three plants are reliable, easy to grow and maintain, and regrow their flowers and leaves quickly. Butterflies typically eat the flowers of all 3 of these plants while their caterpillar forms eat the leaves.
Pick a non-breezy area to create a butterfly garden — Butterflies do not like breezy areas that do not allow them to secure a landing spot on flowers and plants. Because of this, picking a location in your yard that is as non-breezy as possible will help to attract monarchs.
Plant blue porterweed — Blue porterweed (stachytarpheta cayennensis) is a major butterfly attractant here in town. Growing all-year round, this plant, which is known also for its reported medicinal purposes, attracts monarch butterflies as well as bees, hummingbirds, moths, and more.
Pick a sunny spot to create a butterfly garden — Butterflies are most attracted to habitats that are exposed to lots of sunshine. Find the spot in your yard that receives the most sunlight throughout the day—with regard to the amount of wind that spot might experience—and start your butterfly garden there.