A is for Aesclepias and Achillea – Attracting Bees and Butterflies

  • Post published:02/09/2021
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Aesclepias tuberosa has brilliant flowers that attract a variety of butterflies and bees

I am aware that  our world needs the plants and insects that have been obliterated because of the lack of plants that will feed them. That is why I, and many other gardeners, are choosing pollinator plants for their gardens.

I planted a sunny bed of the brilliant Aesclepias tuberose, butterfly weed, in my garden  because I want to attract butterflies, especially Monarch butterflies which need the pollen and nectar. The female Monarchs lay their eggs on the underside of  the leaves. This is the only food the hatching caterpillars can eat.

Happily, besides Monarchs, frequent visitors include native bees, honey bees, hummingbirds, and many other types of butterflies.

A. tuberose will grow fine in ordinary soil. And in full sun. You can plant the seeds, or possibly buy plants, or get plants at a garden plant sale. These plants do increase – as you might imagine when the little seed pod splits open and sends the seeds and floss off to find a new place to grow. I have let my own plants increase, but I do give away and, alas, throwaway, many of the seed pods because I do not want to  have only a milkweed garden.

Achillea millifolia ‘Terra Cotta’ attracts many pollinators

Achillea, also known as yarrow, attracts many pollinators, bees of every sort, wasps, and butterflies. These and other insects  will sit on the blossoms and sip from many tiny yarrow florets and collect pollen at the same time. It has a long summer blooming season.

Achillea does not require rich soil, but it will grow taller with better soil. No matter the soil, Achillea will increase every year. Depending on the space in your garden it will be necessary to dig out some of the plants. Maybe there is a plant sale or swap in your neighborhood that will give you an opportunity to share important plants.

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