Friday, January 12, 2018

Gardening for Butterflies

(Note: The draft of this was done 2 yrs ago, but i forgot to follow it up and post. Now i updated most of them and added more photos)

Oh how lovely it would be if i can write a book, Butterfly Gardening, or Gardening for Butterflies. This means i must augment my butterfly photos, that i have neglected in favor of my hoyas.  A few years passed that i haven't taken butterfly photos except when they alight on the hoya flowers. But that is seldom, as the frequent visitors of hoyas are moths at night. Actually, i have observed them again for the last two weeks. I took time out from the hoyas and took a few shots of the butterflies again.

Oh how lovely if i can do something about this. A garden showcasing the plants, their culture and their purpose of attracting butterflies. There will be 2 parts, the host plants and the nectar plants. And the landscaping part can be a bonus. Someone in the past said, there should always be "something to do, someone to love, and something to hope for". I guess a book on Gardening for Butterflies will be a nice thing to hope for! I guess i will just expand my plantings for more species to come. Then, i can invite my friends....

But before that happens, I must share here the plants in my garden that are magnets for butterflies. Some are not intended for a nice landscape, but some are purposely planted for butterflies. Some i  just realized when observing them. There are actually some butterfly species which prefer other flowers not preferred by most. Sometimes, there are specificity too. I will be putting here the plants that will not fail butterfly gardeners in the tropics.

Part I

1. Ixora coccinea


We have 2 hedges of these orange-red Ixora coccinea in our garden. They are just left there perennially and sometimes just trimmed back before the rainy season. I found them very dry season tolerant, as they still flower even with scorched leaves during our long dry season. One hedge is the above photo and also located in a more elevated part of the garden. Below is at the lower ground. 


Above is another clump of Ixora which is not included in the hedge. Butterflies prefer alighting on flower umbels, as they just withdraw and insert their proboscis in most of the individual flowers without getting off. That saves their energy by not often flying. 

 A scarlet mormon, Menelaides deiphobus rumanzovia is ofter seen on them.

A scarlet mormon showing the undersides, which maybe more attractive than the upper side. 

We also have a tree of Ixora javanica with even bigger red umbels. These species are all called "santan" locally. Butterflies especially the common mormon and scarlet mormon are mostly seen in both Ixora species. 

2. Lantana camara



This bushy orange lantana came from a very far island province in the Visayas, which i took during my travels before. The cuttings joined me in the plane, in the bus, jeepneys and tricycles before it reached our place. We just prune it to induce good growth at the start of the rainy season. It is loved by many butterfly species. Shown above is a Great Eggfly, Hypolimnas bolina, and a Glassy Tiger, Ideopsis juventa manillana.

This pink lantana is a wild species that grow at the edge of the garden. It doesn't look nice in a big bushy stand, also has unpleasant odor for humans, but is well-loved by butterflies. That blue one however got entangled at the spider webs, which make them purposely to catch the butterflies. Our garden also supports the food chain.

3. Pentas lanceolata


We have three colors of Pentas in the past, but only the red and the pink remained here this year. Both the white and the violet died completely during the last dry season. We had to obligingly water them last dry season to at least reach the rainy season again.

A male Common Mormon, Menelaides polytes ledebouria, is shown above lingering in sipping nectar.

 White Tiger, Danaus melannipus edmondii

The pink pentas is not as floriferous as the red. Its umbels are normally smaller too. This Danaid butterfly, a cousin of the monarch visits this often.

4. Impatiens balsamina

Please ignore its characteristics of being a bit invasive, at least they are easily pulled out of the soil if you want to eliminate them, or remove some. We have lots of them, and they are everywhere in the property. They started as a few seeds i got from the university grounds, and now they are seen everywhere even in the orchard. This clump is at the front of the house, and there still are clumps at the sides, the back and beyond everywhere, as long as there is soil! 

In the past, we have a few peach and pink, but they all perished last dry season. So i sourced again some seeds of violets and whites. Now the violets dominate growth around us. 

Scarlet Mormon (male), Menelaides deiphobus rumanzovia


I observed that the frequent visitors are the Scarlet Mormon and the blue male Wanderer Pareronia boebera boebera. The Eggflies, Blue Tigers, Lemon Emigrants, Crows, Pierids do not linger on them.  

Sometimes the Mycalesis igoleta igoleta go there but they just alight on the leaves, not sipping nectar. I guess they are just trying to keep cool or hide from direct sunlight. 

5. Clerodendrum intermedium


It is called "kasupanggil" in our dialect. This is well-loved also by butterflies as nectar source. Even if its characteristics is not like the usual umbels, the butterflies will be able to sip  from multiple flowers in this big flowering plant. The seeds turn purplish blue when ripe and scatter around to germinate again. We just limit their growths in the property, maintaining a few plants only for the butterflies. Swallowtails, the blues and the eggflies come here. However, it is also a host plant for some moth species.

6. Sphagneticola trilobata


It is also called Singapore daisy, also a creeper that has been used as ground covers in gardens. Eventually, it escaped cultivation and became weeds. They are not cultivated with ours, but are growing as weeds near the sidewalk. It has yellow flowers always visited by low flying butterflies. Above is a Common Three-Ring or Ypthima stellera stellera, always present whenever others fail to appear! This is a very friendly one for beginners.



These 2 are small lycaenids, Lesser Grass Blue Zizina otis oriens and Tiny Grass Blue Zizula hylax pygmaea . They are present here most of the time, and a beginner will not fail to photograph them. Just be ready with your macro lenses.

7. Duranta erecta

We have a big plant of this very near the porch. We just cut the branches before the rainy season to induce lush growths and flowers. I observed that the butterflies favored this much among all the nectar plants with us. It is so lovely finding a lot of species around it, with a few numbers in each species. They come and go, do their courtship rituals there, drive other species off, but they always come back. It is really a haven for butterflies. 

I already planted a few near the roadside so more children will observe them. A lot of butterflies actively surrounding a flowering plant is a sight to behold. Even the uninitiated with butterflies will surely love the show. The butterfly visitors of our duranta are endless, so a praying mantis permanently resides here for its sure ambush. 

A chocolate albatross, Appias lyncida andrea


A Blue Tiger, Tirumala limniace orestilla

Lemon emigrant, Catopsila pomona pomona

Scarlet Mormon (male), Menelaides deiphobus rumanzovia

Yoma sabina podium

 Great Eggfly, Hypolimnas bolina philippensis

Orange Gull, Cepora aspasia olga


There is a lot more! I hope you will not forget to come over again for the next Part.













11 comments:

  1. This is wonderful--both the information and your beautiful photos! I've grown many of these plants, too, and the butterflies here like them, too. :)

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    1. Yes Beth, butterflies are really enticing wherever we see them. I guess i will continue this Gardening for Butterflies showing the plants i am familiar with. If only i am like you, who writes very well, then my hope of having a book Gardening for Butterflies will materialize.

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  2. You have the basis for a wonderful book, here. You must write it. My favorite butterfly is the Scarlet Mormon; the plant I like best is the Duranta. Beautiful posting! P. x

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    1. Oh thank you Pam for the assurance, though i am not that confident i know how to write. I always just blog spontaneously.

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  3. Some delightful names - chocolate albatross!

    Today we came home to a citrus swallowtail resting with spread wings. I move the caterpillars from the potted lime to the lemon tree - which is big enough to take a few nibbled leaves in its stride.

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    1. We also have some citrus trees but species which cater to the Scarlet Mormon. The problem in that tree is the prevalence of larvae predators. I already have another citrus species in pots still not allowed to be eaten, hehe

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  4. Lovely to see your tropical flowers and butterflies. It is great to think that there are other people around the world planing plants for butterflies. I have been doing the same in the property that I inherited from my father in 2016. We will be moving there in about a year, but I have been planting plants, taking cuttings and buying plants, which I am growing here to take down when they are bigger. My father was a biologist, so the place is already fantastic for butterflies, but there will be so many more plant by the time we move there!

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    1. How wonderful if our countries are a bit closer, so we can visit each other's property and together we can document our butterflies.

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  5. oh how I miss having a garden. We live in an apartment with a small deck area outside so I've put small pot plants out there in the hopes of attracting insects like bees and butterflies and ladybirds.

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    1. In Metro Manila where i work i also live in a condo unit, so i am the only one with plants on top of the airconditioning unit outside the window. And another small window has a plant shelf inside getting light only from that glass.

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  6. beautiful butterflies, Andrea. I am wondering what attracts them to particular flowers. Is it the colour or the shape or scent or a combination of all 3? I really like that quote: "something to do, someone to love, and something to hope for". It doesn't matter if your English isn't perfect. You can always get someone to edit your book. You have passion and lots of knowledge, it will be a great book!

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