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Butterfly Heaven

Few plants provide as much enjoyment to butterflies as mistflowers. These perennials provide masses of flowers for a true butterfly banquet, providing candy for butterflies— not to mention “eye candy” for humans.

All mistflowers require sun, but they can also tolerate a little shade. The ideal location is a site that is sunny for three quarters of the day and with dappled shade in the late afternoon. Soil does not seem be an issue. However, like most Texas natives, overly rich soil with too much compost poses problems.

When it comes to Texas natives, be very prudent with compost, mulch and water. In fact, the rule of thumb for native plants is a less-is-more approach. After establishment water mistflower no more than twice a month, and prune and mulch it twice a year.

The three varieties recommended for this area are:

  • Gregg’s mistflower (Conoclinium greggii): low growing and blue flowers that bloom throughout the growing season.
  • Fragrant mistflower or Crusita (Chromolaena odorata): sprawling and vigorous, best for open areas. Butterflies can’t get enough of the nectar.
  • White mistflower or white boneset (Ageratina havanensis): native to the Hill County, this fall bloomer is one of the most underrated small shrubs. After the first fall rains, hillsides are covered in white with this often unnoticed small evergreen shrub. And, yes, butterflies love it. Of the three, white boneset tolerates shade the best.

All of these mistflowers can be seen at Mitchell Lake Audubon Center.

For those with a hankering for butterflies in the landscape, mistflowers are a wonderful choice and fall is just around the corner to do some ideal planting.

Speaking of which… the WaterSaver Landscape Coupon is back and the autumn edition plant lineup includes mistflower!

Mark Peterson
Mark Peterson
Mark A. Peterson is a conservation project coordinator for San Antonio Water System. With over 30 years of experience as an urban forester and arborist, Mark is probably the only person you know who actually prunes trees for fun. When not expounding on the benefits of trees and limited lawns, you’re likely to find him hiking San Antonio’s wilderness parks or expounding on the virtues of geography and history to his friends.
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