planting

PLANTING PERENNIALS THAT ATTRACT BUTTERFLIES

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 Planting Perennials that Attract Butterflies

 Almost anything that blooms in the summer will attract butterflies.  The most difficult part of planting to attract butterflies is narrowing down the choices. 

To get started ask yourself these questions and choose the plants that best suit your area: 

·      How tall do you want the plant to get?

·      Does your area have sun, shade, or part sun, and what direction does it face?

·      Do you want an evergreen or leafy plant?

·      Do you have any special wishes for the plant – color, blooms, etc.

Choosing native plants is always a good option.  

Some common perennials that are butterfly favorites include

·      Butterfly weed (Asclepias) -  Bright orange blooms, grow app. 2’

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·      Blazing star (Liatris)- Spikes of lavender blooms, grow app. 2’

·      Cone flowers (Echinacea) – Come in multiple colors and sizes

·      Black Eyed Susans (Rudbeckia) – Bright yellow with brown centers

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·      Bee Balm (Monarda) – Come in multiple colors and sizes

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·      Cardinal Flower (Lobelia) –Bright red blooms, grows 3’

·      False Sunflower(Heliopsis) – Bright yellow flowers, grows 3’

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·      Hyssop (Agastache) – Blue violet spikes , grows 3’

·      Phlox – Come in multiple colors and sizes

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·      Sedums – Come in multiple colors and sizes

PLANTING TO ATTRACT BIRDS

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There is nothing more delightful than seeing the spring and fall migration of birds, a robin’s nest with blue eggs, the bright yellow color of goldfinch, or the bright blue of an indigo bunting.

There are some things you can do to attract these beautiful birds to your yard.

Birds have 3 basic needs to survive – habitat, food, and water. With farm fields becoming bigger and bigger it is more important than ever that farmsteads, farm windbreaks, and urban homes provide these basic needs.  No matter where they are, any trees, shrubs, or perennials that you plant are good for birds. Adding a source of water is also helpful to attract birds.  

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Evergreens are especially important for winter habitat. Eastern Red Cedars are native to Iowa. Many other evergreens such as junipers and yews also provide habitat and berries for winter food.

All shade trees provide habitat and shelter. Many of the smaller ornamental trees are excellent sources of berries. During the fall migration cedar wax wings especially like berries from serviceberries. Other ornamental trees that provide berries include crabapples, hawthorns, mountain ash, and fruit trees –especially cherries.

There are many shrubs that also provide berries. Some of these include viburnum, dogwood, elderberry, coralberry, aronia, and cotoneaster.  There are many varieties of viburnums. One of our favorites is called “Blue Muffin”. These grow about 5-7 feet tall and have beautiful clusters of bright blue berries. Aronia (Chokeberry) produce an edible berry which is considered an antioxidant. These can be harvested and made into jams and other products if you can beat the birds to the berries.

Perennials can also provide habitat and food sources. Hummingbirds,  warblers and other varieties of birds enjoy both blossoms and seeds. Planting natives is always a good idea.

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Anything you plant will encourage birds to your yard. Add a water source and your yard will become a favorite stopping spot for them.  As always, be mindful of sprays, pesticides, and herbicides and avoid these as much as possible