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Butterfly Gardening

The fall migration of the Monarch butterfly happens to coincide with the best time of year to plant their favorite host and nectar plants; so it’s a no-brainer that butterfly gardening is a hot topic right now.

San Antonio has steadily been increasing habitats for Monarch butterflies and other pollinators since becoming the first city in the country to be named a Monarch Champion in the National Wildlife Federation (NWF) Mayor’s Monarch Pledge campaign. Our city of San Antonio pledged to adopt 100% of the 24 actions suggested to support the declining population of the Monarch butterfly. We at Rainbow Gardens are so proud to be a part of a city like San Antonio that supports such an amazing cause.

At Rainbow Gardens we provide our support for the Monarch butterfly population by doing our best to search for, find, and stock milkweed (the ONLY host plant for Monarchs) and other nectar plants. And it’s not just the Monarch butterfly that we care deeply about, it’s all other butterflies and pollinators alike. We carry a multitude of host and nectar plants and native species that are sure to have the butterflies swarming your landscapes in sheer joy.

We provide you with informational signs about pollinator plants and offer multiple fertilizer lines for many options to feed your butterfly plants safely. And don’t forget about our inspirational display butterfly gardens. Our Rainbow Gardens Bandera location is even a Monarch Waystation, and one visit will leave no doubt why. When the sunshine is out, the garden is alive with the motion of fluttering wings. Our Bandera location is also host to our own in-house butterfly guru, Laura Jarvis. Laura has spent years studying, observing, raising, and sharing her knowledge about her absolute favorite thing in the world…butterflies. She always offer seminars and workshops so that you can get up close and personal with these magical creatures. 

R.S.V.P. and check for openings for our seminars and workshops.

Butterfly Host & Nectar Plants

Fall is the best time in San Antonio to plant many butterfly and pollinator attracting plants. And if you haven’t tried it yet, we highly encourage you to do so this year. We practice what we preach at Rainbow Gardens, and in our landscapes right now, the plants we planted last fall in anticipation of the butterflies are the ones that are still surviving and thriving. These host and nectar plants are ready for the Monarch migration in October, and you can be ready for it too! So let’s get on to the fun stuff and see what you need for your butterfly gardens this fall.

The following are some of Rainbow Gardens’ favorite butterfly host and nectar plants. This is by all means not an all inclusive list, but they are tired and true plants that thrive in San Antonio and really bring the Monarchs and other butterflies in.

Butterfly Host & Nectar Plants

Fall is the best time in San Antonio to plant many butterfly and pollinator attracting plants. And if you haven’t tried it yet, we highly encourage you to do so this year. We practice what we preach at Rainbow Gardens, and in our landscapes right now, the plants we planted last fall in anticipation of the butterflies are the ones that are still surviving and thriving. These host and nectar plants are ready for the Monarch migration in October, and you can be ready for it too! So let’s get on to the fun stuff and see what you need for your butterfly gardens this fall.

The following are some of Rainbow Gardens’ favorite butterfly host and nectar plants. This is by all means not an all inclusive list, but they are tired and true plants that thrive in San Antonio and really bring the Monarchs and other butterflies in.

Host
  • Milkweeds
  • Passionvine
  • Flame Acanthus
  • Fennel
  • Parsley
  • Frogfruit
  • Aster
  • Candlestick Senna (Alata)
  • Lindheimer’s Senna
  • Texas Flowering Senna (Corymbosa)

 

Necatar
  • Duranta
  • Butterfly Bush
  • Gregg’s Blue Mist
  • John Fannick’s Phlox
  • Porterweed
  • Coneflower
  • Salvia Coccinea

 

Many host plants are nectar plants to other pollinators too. We love the Flame Acanthus for hosting the Crimson Patch butterfly and for drawing in the hummingbirds like a moth to a flame. You just can’t go wrong with any of these choices. In researching these plants, you’ll find that most are suited for full sun or full sun/part sun areas. That’s where you’ll find butterflies in the garden. Butterflies are warm-bodied and actually use the sun to “charge” up their energy. So a sunny site with some large flat rocks around is a perfect spot for your butterflies to hang out in. A shallow water site is beneficial to bringing butterflies in to your garden as well. You can achieve this with a pie pan full of gravel and water.

Prepping Your Garden

One of the most important things to remember when creating a butterfly garden is organic products are your friends. If you can keep as many chemicals out of your garden, the better off you and your butterflies will be. While organic fertilizers and soils are amazing for your butterfly plants, organic pesticides can still harm butterflies. Even insecticidal soap can cause damage to any Monarch caterpillars that may be mingling in there with the aphids that tend to plague milkweed. In the butterfly garden, allow nature to take its toll. Let ladybugs and lacewings fly in to devour the aphids. If your milkweed has aphids, check for butterfly eggs and caterpillars. If there are none, spray aphids off with a stream of water from the hose. If there are eggs and/or baby caterpillars, leave it alone.

Learn More About Beneficial Insects for your Garden.