4 Big Benefits to Fall Planting Butterfly Plants
- Less Mud than in the melting snow and rains of Spring
If you live in a region that gets snow, spring is potentially the messiest time of year in the butterfly garden.
- Easy Digging
Depending on spring temperatures, planting can get delayed by a frozen ground. That means you’ll have to wait to belt out Disney’s classic ♪Let it Grow!♪
- Reap the benefits with flowering plants the very next next season
Most perennials you plant in spring won’t yield nectar-filled blooms until next season. By planting just a few months earlier, you’ll see some plants in full glory a year sooner!
- Transplanting will also reap rewards next season
If your plants weren’t happy in their spot this season, what have you got to lose by attempting to move them? That’s right…unhappy plants!
- Don’t Forget!
When planting or transplanting assess your soil and amend with compost if necessary. Don’t give your plants a chance to survive…give them an opportunity to thrive!
The later you plant into fall, the more important it is you mulch to protect the plant roots over winter.
What fall planting ideas could have you reaping butterfly rewards as soon as next season?
Milkweed is the lifeblood of Monarch Butterflies and not having enough will keep garden visits at a minimum and cut your raising adventures short.
1. Milkweed Plants
Try fall planting any variety that can survive winter temps in your region. You can check out some of your milkweed options here
Autumn is also prime time for transplanting unhappy native milkweed varieties. The cool temperatures of fall put less stain on transplants. As long as you dig up most of the root system and keep them sufficiently watered, milkweed transplants can be successful. Swamp milkweed (Asclepias incarnata) is easier to transplant without a rhizomatous root system.
If transplants aren’t an option, find plants at local nurseries or search these online resources:
While milkweed continues the monarch circle of life, nectar flowers give the adults the energy to continue that strenuous cycle.
2. Stiff Goldenrod (Solidago rigida)
Yellow clusters of flowers are a late season treat for many pollinators and a favorite of migrating monarchs.
3. Meadow Blazingstar (Liatris ligulistylis)
Last fall I added 4 plants, and this season we had four flowering stalks from those plants. If we would have planted this spring, not one purple flower would have bloomed. Fall is also a good time for dividing, which in turn will multiply your plants!
Fall division gives the liatris roots time to get acclimated before ground freeze.
4. Joe Pye Weed (Eutrochium spp.)
One of the best perennials for late-season monarchs. We already have the ‘gateway’ variety (Eutrochium maculatum), and this fall we are adding ‘sweet Joe Pye’ (Eutrochium purpureum) to the mix. Try a eutrochium species native to your region.
Planting bulbs can also yield big benefits the next season when compared to seeds…
a. Garlic Chives (Allium tuberosum) have showy white flowers that are a great nectar source for late season bees and migrating monarchs.
I was so excited to see the only viceroy of the season recently with wings spread wide in a complementary vision of beauty. When I returned the viceroy had been secretly replaced by a monarch…still a lovely vision!
b. Chives (Allium schoenoprasum)
Chives provide nectar to spring monarchs returning from Mexico and have beautiful purple blooms. In the northern plains, these are usually finished blooming by the time we see monarchs but they are a great nectar source for early arriving pollinators.
Spectacularly showy pink and purple blooms are a big hit with summer pollinators. As for butterflies, this was one of the tiger swallowtail’s favorite treats. We divided ours last fall, and doubled our plants this season!
If you have a question about fall planting or if you’d like to share your fall-planting experience please post a comment below: