Butterflies, birds and bees, oh my.
When building up a garden in the Lowcountry, there’s a few things you need to keep in mind — what type of soil you have, what plants are native to the area and what plants are used by local wildlife.
This week I spoke with Carlos Chacon, Manager of Natural History for the Coastal Discovery Museum, to find out what plants you should grow in your garden if you want to attract butterflies, birds and bees.
“It all depends on what a person wants to accomplish with their backyard,” Chacon said. “Different plants attract birds, hummingbirds and pollinators.”
Here are some takeaways to keep in mind:
Fall marks the peak season for migrating birds making their way through coastal South Carolina. The best plants to attract butterflies are referred to as “host plants”, and are where butterflies lay their eggs, Chacon said.
Here are some Lowcountry examples:
Spicebush Swallowtail butterflies lay eggs on Sassafrass. Palamedes Swallowtail butterflies lay eggs on Redbay. Both Sassafrass and Redbay grow in well-drained areas.
Black Swallowtail butterflies lay eggs on water hemlock. Water hemlock requires wet soil to grow, so if you live near wetlands or a buggy area with standing water, you’re in good shape, Chacon said.
Gulf Fritillary and Sever Longwing butterflies both use purple passionflower to lay eggs. The purple passionflower is a vine with beautiful (edible) flowers that not only attract butterflies , but bees and other pollinators as well.
Hummingbirds look for plants with long, tubular, red flowers. They also tend to be odorless. Hummingbirds lack a sense of smell, so the plants they’re attracted to usually don’t have an odor, Chacon said.
If you want to see hummingbirds in your yard, here are a few Lowcountry plant options: Coralbean, Coral honeysuckle and red buckeye trees.
Bees, birds and more
Black Cherry trees are a great plant to have in your yard if you want to attract a range of wildlife, Chacon said.
The tree serves as a host plant for Tiger Swallowtail butterflies, its white flowers attract bees and other pollinators and birds enjoy eating the berries.