Supporting Pollinators: Butterfly Gardening with Herbs - Minnesota
- Written by Rhonda Hayes
Planting an herb garden is a great way to provide beautiful flowers and tasty food for humans and pollinators at the same time!
Garden Chives - Allium schoenoprasum
Butterflies like the painted-lady, love the tightly-packed purple florets of the chive plant. This useful herb can provide an early source of nectar for visiting butterflies.
Purple Coneflower - Echinacea purpurea
Butterflies are attracted to the pretty plate-shaped flower of this adaptable native. Echinaceas now come in a multitude of colors, shapes and sizes. However the original is most dependable for supporting wildlife; besides butterflies, echinacea is a favorite of bees and birds. Finches love to feast on the dried seedheads in late summer to autumn.
Milkweed - Asclepias
Milkweeds are important to the survival of Monarch butterflies. They are the only host plant of the Monarch, where eggs are laid and larva feed after hatching. Gorgeous plants in their own right, flower clusters come in colors of white, orange, yellow and pink depending upon the variety.
Dill - Anethum graveolens
The ferny foliage is not only good in tartar sauce but tasty to the larvae of the Black Swallowtail butterfly. Plant extra and observe the striped caterpillars as they feed upon this herb before changing into the chyrsalis that precedes the beautiful butterfly. In the same vein, sweet fennel and parsley are good larval host plants as well.
Another plate-shaped flower that provides a landing platform for the butterfly and easy access to the nectar and pollen in the center. Sunny blooms in yellow, peach and orange that shine in the herb garden. Sometimes known as "poor-man's saffron", the petals are pretty in soup, risotto and salads
Yarrow - Achillea
Butterflies like the white, yellow and reddish flower clusters of this versatile perennial. The flat umbrels act as a landing platform while butterflies feed on their nectar. The fern-like silver foliage is attractive when the plant is not in bloom. Yarrow is disliked by rabbits and drought tolerant.