Here are some pictures of overzealous Zebra Longwing males waiting for a female to emerge from her chrysalis.
This was taken on a very small Corky Stem passionvine (Passiflora suberosa) right in the nursery. This is a staple plant for a butterfly garden- it has lots of advantages! It is a larval plant for both the Zebra Longwings (shady location) and the Gulf Fritillary (sunny location), it grows quickly but not crazy aggressively and it has beautiful miniature flowers. The small dark purple fruits will drop and self seed if they are not eaten and dispersed by critters. The leaves can be whole or bi- or tri-lobed. It will happily climb a structure, searching with its long tendrils, or meander along the ground if it can’t find a vertical support.
The folks at the Bee Lab use the term Reconciliation Ecology,
which they define as a conservation philosophy that seeks to improve the
ability of human landscapes to support
biodiversity, while still allowing for human use. Perfect! Here in Florida, a
Flowering Bee Lawn is a very easy goal to achieve. Choosing plants that are
native to Florida or Well Behaved Tropicals is your best bet. My front lawn is
an example (I never knew it had a fancy name!)- there are both Bahia and Floratam
grasses present, as well as Perennial Peanut (Arachis glabrata) and Carolina
Wild Petunia (Ruellia caroliniensis) (I planted these), and Frogfruit (Phyla
nodiflora) and Florida Betony (Stachys floridana) (they planted
themselves). I’m going to add some Twinflower (Dyschoriste oblongifolia),
which has dark green leaves and small lavender flowers and Lyreleaf Sage (Salvia
lyrata), a low growing plant with spires of blue flowers in the spring. The
natives in this lawn act as both nectar sources for bees and other pollinators,
as well as larval sources for several butterflies. The variety of plants and
grasses ensures that there is a beautiful green carpet that cools the area in
the summer and provides additional nectar sources for our pollinators.
In my back yard, I have an area that is more shaded and has Floratam grass with spearmint (Mentha spicata) and Browne’s Savory (Clinopodium brownei). The Browne’s Savory has dainty white flowers that small pollinators appreciate. These two minty plants provide a sprig for iced tea and smell heavenly when I get the lawn mower out. They remind me of my dad mowing the lawn when I was a little girl- we lived on Mint Water Brook Lane and there was wild mint growing all around us. Another plant inspired memory!
Get started on your Flowering Bee Lawn today- honeybees, butterflies and all the other pollinators will appreciate your efforts!