Butterflies, like many beautiful, delicate creatures, are ever so particular. They enjoy certain plants from which to drink nectar and others on which to plant their eggs.
"Butterflies can use nectar from lots of different plants, but they're very specific about where they lay their eggs," said Christine Bock, lead horticulturalist at the Tennessee Aquarium. She planted the butterfly garden there and also plants her home garden to attract them as well.
Monarchs prefer milkweed, while swallowtails are attracted to members of the parsley family. Bock said she also plants passion vine to attract fritillaries.
Encouraging the butterflies to plant their eggs leads to proliferation. "Year after year, you'll have butterflies."
However, she said she also wishes to have nectar for the butterflies to drink, so she has zinnias and coneflower. Those are nectar plants, along with butterfly bush and butterfly weed. Zinnias, she said, are easy plants for beginning gardeners, as are salvias and globe amarynth.
Her favorite butterflies, she said, are monarchs. "I watch the monarchs lay one egg per leaf on the milkweed, and I watch them grow and eat the milkweed and then I see them make their chrysallises."
Contact Holly Leber at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6391. Follow her on Twitter at twitter.com/hollyleber