Crossville Chronicle, Crossville, TN

Lifestyles

June 16, 2014

PLATEAU GARDENING: Butterfly gardening      

CROSSVILLE — Butterflies get nourishment and drink water by sipping liquids through a flexible straw-like appendage of their mouth called a proboscis. Most get sugar and other essential nutrients from nectar-bearing blossoms. Garden flowers that are good nectar sources include purple cone flower (Echinacea purpurea), black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia species), daisies, sunflowers, bee balm (Monarda) aster, lantana, zinnia, marigold, coreopsis, poppy, cosmos, phlox, salvia, gayfeather also called blazing star (Liatris spicata) and verbena.

Native plants like golden rod, Joe-Pye-weed, milkweed (Asclepias varieties) and honeysuckle vine (Lonicera sempervirens) more often found in wildflower gardens are also butterfly magnets. Butterfly bush (Buddleia species), buttonbush (Cephalanthus occidentalis), the redbud tree (Cercis Canadensis) and locust trees (Robinia pseudoacacia) are woody ornaments with nectar-rich blossoms which draw adult butterflies, too. In addition, some butterflies suck up fluids, salts and other elements from mud, decaying fruit and vegetation or from dung and carrion. Create a drinking spot near or within your butterfly garden with a bowl or saucer filled with moist sand.    

The pretty butterflies, skippers and moths we enjoy seeing flit from flower to flower are only one phase in a four-stage life cycle. Each starts as an egg on a plant leaf specifically chosen by the female butterfly because that is the type of leaf the caterpillar needs to eat after hatching. The plant or plants that support the growth of butterfly or moth larva are known as "host" plants. Caterpillars eat and eat until they are full size. Each then forms a pupa or chrysalis. Inside this protective case the body parts of the worm-like larva change into those of the winged creatures we recognize as butterflies. Host plants for caterpillars may be entirely different than the flowering plants adult butterflies seek out for nectar but having plants which provide food for both the caterpillar and adult butterfly in close proximity increases opportunities to see behaviors throughout the entire reproductive cycle.

On their website http://nabamidtn.org/, the Middle Tennessee chapter of the North American Butterfly Association lists "Top Caterpillar Food Plants" in their free downloadable Butterfly Gardening Guide. Red cannas (Canna generalis), cherry tree, English plantain, milkweed (Asclepias species), Passionvine (Passiflora incarnata), parsley, dill, fennel, pussy toes (Antennaria plantaginifolia), clovers (Trifolium varieties) and violets are all on that list. Do heed the advice on the importance of selecting a sunny site with shelter from the elements when planning your butterfly habitat, but cautions about expense and maintenance seem overstated.

My wildflower meadow was started from seed and contains flower varieties that don’t have high water requirements so a minimal amount of time, money and irrigation have been needed to keep it lush over the past four years. Maintenance isn’t arduous either. The meadow does require an annual weeding to eliminate grasses and mulching with composted leaves as well as over-seeding with a wildflower mix every two years to renew annuals and tender perennials.

Though there is a "Tennessee Butterfly Checklist" on the NABA web pages, I prefer the interactive features of the Tennessee butterfly roster at http://www.thebutterflysite.com/tennessee-butterflies.shtml. Clicking on any Tennessee butterfly listed on that Butterfly Site page links to information at Butterflies and Moths of North America. Color pictures there show all of the life forms — egg, caterpillar, chrysalis and adult for that species. There is a life history and run down on plants for nectar and for hosting caterpillars.

Seeing photos of butterflies and skippers that resembled those that frequented my yard helped me learn their names and select the right plants to encourage those local species to reproduce in my wildflower meadow. Tennessee gardeners planning a butterfly garden should find all three of these web references helpful.

• • •

Plateau Gardening is written by Master Gardeners for gardeners in Tennessee’s Upper Cumberland Region.  Contact UT Extension Cumberland County at P.O. Box 483, Crossville, TN 38557 (931-484-6743) for answers to horticulture questions, free publications and to learn about the Master Gardener program. Send email comments or yard and garden inquiries to Master Gardener Rae (MGardenerRae@frontiernet.net). 

1
Text Only
Lifestyles
  • FFG Resident Services Painting.jpg FFG Resident Services presents painting to the Pat Summitt Foundation

    A dramatic portrait of Pat Summitt, painted by Chuck Jensen, was presented to the Pat Summitt Foundation by Fairfield Glade Resident Services at its Community Information Event on memory care.

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • 127 seniors JosephZarolla-W6.jpg Zarola entertains 127 Seniors

    The members of the 127 South Senior Center met Friday, July 25, for bingo and Mexican Train domino game. Conversation, along with coffee and sweets, was enjoyed by all. Helen Lord called the bingo numbers, and the prizes were furnished by Eye Centers of Tennessee. Life Care Center checked everyone's blood pressures.

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • Marriage licenses (Published July 30, 2014)

    July 29, 2014

  • Habitat-Group photo-Crisp Dedication .jpg Habitat celebrates 55th home dedication

    Anne Crisp is excited that she and her two daughters have a home to call their own. Cumberland County Habitat for Humanity (CCHFH) dedicated the 55th home to be built in partnership with low-income families. Crisp put more than 500 hours of "sweat equity" into her home and has completed 50 hours of self-improvement, where she attended classes on budgeting, home maintenance and good neighbor among others.

    July 28, 2014 2 Photos

  • Gypsy Rose to visit Fair Park

    The Cumberland County Playhouse is currently performing the award-winning Broadway play “Gypsy.” A great American story set during the 1920s fading vaudeville circuit, "Gypsy" portrays the rise of famed burlesque performer and stage mother Gypsy Rose Lee as she journeys across the country with her mother and sister during a time when Vaudeville was dying and burlesque was born. The complex character of Rose could be described as bold and brassy, as she steamrolls everyone in her way to turn her daughters June and Louise into child stars.

    July 28, 2014

  • plateau gardening-springBlooms4361.jpg Match August garden tasks to plant biology

    During all seasons in temperate climates like ours the greenery around us is changing. New shoots appear and leaves pop out of swollen buds after spring rains.

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • Pleasant Hill Ramblings.jpg Landis reunites with Japanese teacher

    There is a special lady living in Pleasant Hill who spent 42 years of her life in Sendai, Japan, teaching English at a Japanese Christian school and as a missionary with the United Church of Christ Board for World Ministries.

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • Lion of Year.jpg Lions Club recognizes Lion of the Year

    Charles Loveday, charter member of the Crossville Lions Club, was recognized as the Lion of the Year at the annual installation of officers picnic July 8. Loveday earned this award for his service as first vice president, membership chairman, eye glass chairman and his help with fundraisers and other matters where needed. From left are Loveday and President Gary Laura.

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • 8-8 counseling center-play with dolls.jpg Christian Counseling Center celebrating 12 years

    Help the Christian Counseling Center of Cumberland County (C5) celebrate 12 years of community service. Dine at Ruby Tuesday of Crossville Aug. 8, 9 or 10. Print the flyer from the center’s website, www.cccotp.org, and give it to the server.

    July 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • A Time 4 Paws collecting shoes to help Soles4Souls in fight against global poverty

    Attention anyone with a closet! Those shoes no longer wanted are desperately needed to fight the human tragedy of global poverty.

    July 24, 2014