Photo  of Tropical Milkweed from my garden last August 2014

Asclepias curassavica - Tropical Milkweed, Mexican Milkweed, Bloodflower -- Easy to find in nurseries, Tropical Milkweed works well in the garden. Unlike our native milkweeds which tend to wither during the heat of the summer, Tropical Milkweed thrives in the heat and blooms from spring to first frost. It dies to the ground with a freeze, but for the last two years, this plant has self-seeded all over my garden.  Very attractive nectar source to a wide variety of species -- Attracts hairstreaks, skippers and swallowtails.

Note: although they are beautiful, we do not currently have a butterfly garden at the Garland Community Garden. And I'm not entirely certain that I would vote to put one in down there as some species of butterflies like to use vegetables as host plants.  For example, the Gray Hairstreak (Strymon melinus) uses Okra for a host plant.  Even so, butterfly gardens are important because we have destroyed so much of their natural habitat with our unimaginative, fertilizer soaked lawns and foundation shrubs.

Last year we did have a plethora of tropical milkweed growing down at the garden and I have it in my yard at home as well.  Indeed this plant does attract many butterflies.  We shall see how many plants we get this year from their self-seeding process.  If it is the same as my yard, we can expect at least 50 of these plants down at the garden this year.  I have to pull up and replant elsewhere those that crop up in my garden from the previous year.  In fact--that's where the tropical milkweed down at the garden came from.


In your butterfly garden you will need two types of plants:  butterfly nectar plants and butterfly host plants. Butterfly nectar plants are the type of plants the adult butterflies feed on.  Butterfly host plants are the type of plants that butterfly caterpillars eat.  Since the caterpillars cannot travel far, the female butterfly lays her eggs only on the types of plants that the caterpillar can use for food.

1) First learn what butterflies are located in your area.

The following list of butterflies are found in Texas.  Each link to a butterfly will provide a photo of that butterfly as well as what county in Texas it is found.  Here is the link to a great list of butterflies located in the Dallas area.


2) Then choose the plants for your butterfly garden.

In your butterfly garden you will need two types of plants:  butterfly nectar plants and butterfly host plants. Butterfly nectar plants are the type of plants the adult butterflies feed on.  Butterfly host plants are the type of plants that butterfly caterpillars eat.  Since the caterpillars cannot travel far, the female butterfly lays her eggs only on the types of plants that the caterpillar can use for food. Choose your plants accordingly to include some from each of the two following categories and also according to which types of each category of plants grow well in your area and are also suitable for the types of butterflies that are found in your area.

Butterfly Nectar Plants

These plants are the type of plants that adult butterflies like.  Not all of the plants in your butterfly garden must be flowers.  For example, the flower of an okra plant not only attracts bees, it also attracts.  As mentioned above, the tropical milkweed is an excellent choice for a butterfly nectar plant in our area.  For more, check out this link

Butterfly Host Plants

These plants are the type of plants that butterfly caterpillars feed on.  Be forewarned:  You probably do not want these plants in a featured spot in your garden as they can look rather raggedly from the ongoing caterpillar munching.  Still, keep them as near as possible to the butterfly nectar plants.  If you don't provide host plants, you will not have as many butterflies (which is fine with me as a little butterflies go a long way). Here is a list of butterfly host plants for our area.


3) Plan and then plant your butterfly garden.

(Note:  in my case, I would want it located as far as possible from my okra patch.)  First, of course, you want to plan the garden in relation to the whole of your garden.  After that you would need to consider the plants according to their varying heights, soil needs, mature size, time of year when they bloom, total space of your bed, life cycles of the butterflies you hope to attract, etc.  As you can see, a lot of planning goes into the creation of a butterfly garden. Designing a perfect butterfly garden.


4) Enjoy your butterfly garden and the butterflies.

The other side of the fun of a butterfly garden is, of course, watching the butterflies and teaching your children and grandchildren about them.  Go here for more information on how to do this:  Butterfly Behavior in the Garden.



The best real time expercience with butterfles and butterfly gardens in our area is the Butterfly House located at the Discovery Gardens in Dallas.



A few members of Loving Garland Green take a break for chatting on Feb 7 down at the Garland Community Garden.

Members of Loving Garland Green have been busy over the winter amending existing beds and adding new ones to the Garland Community Garden.  Our membership is growing.  Over the past two months we have added five new members and four of them are now stewarding beds down at the garden and two of them are leading three of our many projects. In addition to all this work, we are continuing our outreach to the youth of our community with a new program titled URBAN GARDENS FOR KIDS.  We are presenting this class at Beaver Tech, a magnet school here in Garland.

Yesterday, down at the garden, I ran into Carol Garrison and Daniel Bell, two friends of mine and members of Loving Garland Green.  They were taking photos of the garden for a nomination for our Garland Community Garden that "Keep Garland Beautiful" is submitting on our behalf.  Carol requested some photos of our garden from last year and in the process of looking over our website, I updated the site and also revisited some information that I want to share with you on the economics of gardening.

One of Loving Garland Green's many goals is to inspire people to plant edibles because we know these efforts will improve our local economy.  There is the possibility to supplement your annual income with a garden and in doing this, it has the ripple effect of also enriching your local economy and local prosperity.  Following is information I wrote last year and posted on our website.  Guess what folks?  It's still true--only considering how the prices of food continue to rise, I'll bet that a 100 square foot garden will save your family more like $800 this year.  If you add the fact that you could plant seedlings (get a load of how much these sell for at retail prices), you might be able to add $2,000 or more by selling your seedlings at yard sales.


You Can Grow $700 of Food in 100 Square Feet

In 2008  Rosalind Creasy, author of one of the best books on gardening, "Edible Landscaping", set out to prove what would happen if Americans set aside just part of their lawns to grow edibles.  She took a 5 x 20 foot section of her lawn and turned it into a garden.  The result was that in that small 100 square foot area she was able to grow $700 worth of food.

From April to September, her little organic garden produced 77.5 pounds of tomatoes, 15.5 pounds of bell peppers, 14.3 pounds of lettuce, and 2.5 pounds of basil — plus 126 pounds of zucchini.  At the current local prices for this produce in 2008, Ms. Creasy calculated the little garden produced $746.52.  However, after expenses of seed and compost she figured the costs at $63.09. Thus $683.43 for her savings. However, a woman from Iowa calculated that this organic produce would have  cost $975.18 to purchase in a store.

A 100 Square Foot Garden is a Win-Win for the Planet

According to the Garden Writers Association, 84 million U.S. households gardened in 2009. Ms. Creasy reasoned that if just half of them (42 million) planted a 100-square-foot garden, 96,419 acres (about 150 square miles) would no longer be in lawns.  Thus there would be no need for the tremendous resources used in keeping them manicured. If folks got even one-half of the yields Ms. Creasy obtained, the national savings on groceries would be about $14.35 billion!  

Read the entire story on this garden and view the spreadsheets of its related records at Mother Earth News.

Then get started now.  Keep coming back!  Gardening works--for you, your family and your community.
If you live in Garland, consider joining Loving Garland Green.  We meet every Monday from 6:30 to 7:30 PM at 216 East Kingsbridge Drive.  We are open to the public and membership is free.