Saturday, September 24, 2005

In the Butterfly Garden: Lantanas and Tiger Swallowtails

I love finding Tiger Swallowtails on the lantana. What spectacularly large and beautiful butterflies. I first got interested in butterfly gardening after seeing these swallowtails making frequent trips to a roadside lantana that had popped up in the corner of my property long ago. A lot of gardeners don’t like planting lantana in their yards because it reminds them of those roadside lantanas that grow like weeds by, well, by the roadside. But they’re missing out on what is probably the best butterfly nectar plant in Florida and many named cultivars are now available in colors other than the deep orange and school-bus-yellow common lantana. Several sizes are available, too, from low growing trailing lantana to ones that grow 5 feet. Frequently we carry lantanas grown into lollipop topiaries and have one planted in our own butterfly garden (replacing the one we lost last year to hurricane Jeanne). Lantanas are reported to be somewhat toxic, especially the berries, but my border collie, Maggie, finds the slightly funky smell of lantana to be irresistable and has eaten many leaves with seemingly no ill effect.

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