Pretty, Productive, and Popular Plants for Pollinators
I was going to write about something totally different this week, but then a very ugly orange hairy caterpillar caught my eye climbing on my Passionflower vine (Passiflora incarnata). In a short time, he/she had formed a chrysalis. I am watching every day for a Gulf Fritillary Butterfly to emerge.
Since this is prime Butterfly time so why not look at a few of my favorite pollinator plants?
Passionflower vine is a native here and aside from those spectacular and unusual flowers, it is the host plant for Gulf Fritillaries. The vine can get quite large so give it a substantial area to climb on. Mine is growing up my porch screen having “escaped” the trellis. They do very well in a container and cuttings are easy to root in the spring when there are higher hormone levels in plants in general.
Bees and hummingbirds really go for Cuphea vermillionaire and Hamelia patens (Firebush). They seem to like tubular flowers although I must admit the bees in my garden love any kind of flower that I grow – salvias, roses, black-eyed susans, gaura, and oregano, to name a few.
Of course, Monarchs love Milkweed. I have had a problem this year getting our native milkweed which is Asclepias tuberosa. Most nurseries are selling Asclepsias currasavica. It is much easier for nurseries to grow than the native and grows quite tall with red and yellow flowers. The problem with Tropical Milkweed is that it does not die back in the Fall so the Monarchs are encouraged to hang out instead of migrate. This is not a good thing and interferes with their natural life cycle. What to do? Cut it down in October and discard it. You will feel guilty because there may be caterpillars seeking it out, but it must be done.
And a plant grown not for its flowers, but for culinary purposes is parsley. Black Swallowtail caterpillars love parsley so plant some for cooking and little extra for the caterpillars.
Next week’s topic is “rewilding,” No, it is not a look back at your college days. It is a hot new trend in sustainable horticulture. Until then, stay cool and safe.