Growing a garden to attract butterflies

Brad Horn/Nevada Appeal

Brad Horn/Nevada Appeal

In the Sierra Nevada folks tend to enjoy the outdoors to a degree not matched elsewhere in the United States. At least that's what local chambers of commerce say, and who's going to argue with them?

Hiking, skiing, horseback riding are the soup de jour in Nevada. And of course, so are gardens. Many are elaborate displays of flowers. Some perch on window sills. And some have a speciality: butterflies in great numbers. How to lure those winded splashes of color is a question that happily has answers.

"You can put a butterfly garden almost anyplace," said David Ruf to an audience eager to know about creating such a garden at the Greenhouse Garden Center in Carson City last week.

Ruf then proceeded to display a collection of plants that will lure the winged beauties to your garden along with a lecture. Off to one side a butterfly perched on a yarrow plant, as if to help with the lecture.

"You'll see butterfies more often in the morning or evening. In the hot time of the day they tend to settle down to wait out the heat."

Moths, Ruf said, come out in spring "while butterflies wait until it's warmer." And It's the moths that cause worms in apples, he said.

"Honeysuckle is a good butterfly lure, as is foxglove - tall purple flower - and verbinia with a red blossom. Yarrow is fine. And lavender works and deer don't like it."

Ruf ticked off some other plants good for butterfly draw: Broccoli, cabbage, mustard, dicentra, linria purppurea, ruta graveoleans, veronica.

Some others included coneflower, gallardia, monarda, hibiscus, buddleia and zinias. In short, just about anything that furnishes either a place to lay eggs or offers nectar.

So, let 'em fly. Build your butterfly garden and enjoy a natural treat.


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