When you think of plants to attract butterflies the first one that comes to mind is Buddleia commonly known as the Butterfly Bush. So surely that will be one of the top six mentioned in the title. In fact the Butterfly Bush is not included in this list for two very good reasons. The first is that other plants are more attractive to these delightful insects and secondly the Butterfly Bush is a non-native invasive plant. I learned this from an article by Benjamin Vogt which I found on the Houzz website.
In the late afternoon and early evening, when the summer sun is its most potent, the insects are in frenetic action. All over the garden, the tips of flowers launch into the air ? if there were such thing as an insect air traffic controller, it would have lost its mind long ago. Bees, wasps, flies, moths, beetles and butterflies work to satiate their own hunger on nectar plants, while on others they gather pollen to feed their young miles away.
Above the native prairie plants ? culver?s root, aster, boneset, coreopsis, milkweed, ironweed and American senna ? the sound of wings can be heard 10 feet away. But over by the butterfly bush (Buddleja davidii), one lone tiger swallowtail works the blooms, like a tourist at a restaurant the locals never visit.The Problems With Butterfly Bush
No one believes me, not even when I post videos online. The butterfly bush sees one-tenth, even one-twentieth of the action of almost any other native plant. Sure, an occasional butterfly or bumblebee, a sphinx moth, may fly by, but it’s hardly anything to write home about. Even just as a nectar source, other nonnatives, like lavender and caryopteris, get far more insects ? and as you know, insects are the base of the food chain for birds and us.
Here’s the thing about butterfly bush. It has proven invasive on both U.S. coasts. Maybe not in small backyard gardens, but birds carry off the seed to the point that it’s popping up in unmanaged fields and roadside areas.
A native of Asia, it has no checks and balances in the U.S., and as a larger wildlife-supporting plant, it just doesn’t pass muster. I know we all plant butterfly bush to help insects, but the plant’s name is simply as successful a marketing tactic as I’ve ever seen.