Most gardeners and nature enthusiasts love the sight of graceful butterflies flitting from one plant to another. Butterfly gardening has become increasingly popular not only because butterflies are beautiful, but also because they assist in pollination. While there are many plants that attract butterflies, no butterfly garden should be without lantana. Continue reading to learn about lantana and butterflies in the garden.
Attracting Butterflies with Lantana Plants
Butterflies have a highly evolved sense of smell and are attracted to the sweet-smelling nectar of many plants. They also are attracted to plants with bright blue, purple, pink, white, yellow, and orange blooms. Additionally, butterflies prefer plants with flat or dome-shaped clusters of small tubal flowers that they can safely perch on as they drink the sweet nectar. So, does lantana attract butterflies? Yes! Lantana plants provide all these butterfly preferences. Lantana is a hardy perennial in zones 9 to 11, but northern gardeners often grow it as an annual. There are over 150 varieties of this tough heat and drought tolerant plant, but there are two main types that are grown, trailing and upright. Trailing varieties come in many colors, oftentimes with more than one color on the same flower dome. These trailing plants are excellent in hanging baskets, containers, or as groundcovers. Upright lantana also comes in many color variations, can grow up to 6 feet (2 m.) tall in certain climates, and is an excellent addition to any flower bed or landscape. Some butterflies that commonly visit lantana for its nectar are:
- Checkered whites
- Cloudless sulfur
- Red spotted purples
- Red admirals
- Painted ladies
- Gulf fritillaries
- Great southern whites
Hairstreak butterflies and certain Lepidopteras will also use lantana as host plants. Lantana attracts hummingbirds and Sphinx moths too. Many birds feed upon the seeds after the flowers have faded. Male weaver birds use lantana to decorate their nests to attract female weaver birds as well. As you can see, lantana plants are great additions to have around, so if you want to see some butterflies on lantana, be sure to add the lovely flowers to the landscape.
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