I’m always amazed at the bad advice and misinformation you can find online. One recent article I found said, “The only things butterflies are looking for as they flutter about are flowers — nectar sources — and any colorful garden will make them feel right at home.”
The statement is actually wrong on two counts:
1. Butterflies are also looking for host plants. Nectar plants will give them energy, but they need host plants to lay their eggs. I frequently see butterflies going from plant to plant searching for the right host plant. Note – they also hunt for minerals, amino acids and all sorts of nutrients they need.
2. The second things wrong is that any colorful garden is good for butterflies – again wrong. Butterflies are looking for good nectar sources not colorful plants. Your garden could be filled with roses, yet you’d see few butterflies. Roses are not good nectar sources.
If you have trouble with rabbits chewing your prize plants, you can give Plantskydd a try. June Hutson of the Missouri Botanical Garden uses it and says, “Rabbits hate it and I always say if rabbits eat plants that have Plantskyd on them, they deserve to have them. It is usually quite effective.” Note – it’s quite expensive and not everyone has good luck. I don’t use it – I have too many plants to protect. I have been known to use 3′ tall plastic fencing to protect new plants, plus I have used no-kill traps to move them to a different location.
What is your answer for rabbits?
Plantskydd for Rabbits
Sweet Bay Magnolia and Tiger Swallowtails
If you don’t want to plant a gigantic tulip tree to attract Tiger Swallowtails, consider the smaller Sweet Bay Magnolia. You can keep it trimmed down to a manageable size to be able to find the larvae.
It also appears to be a host plant for Giant Swallowtails.