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I used to love butterfly bushes; the graceful arch of the branches, the multitude of colors and yes, the butterflies they attract. I had one in my townhouse yard that got larger every year. In my new house several were planted by a landscaping company (there you go!) and after a couple of harsh winters we lost most of them. Some we tried to transplant in hope but nothing. We replaced them and same thing; lost. I still get envious when I see others that are big and beautiful. But now I am done with these high maintenance time wasters! The 3 that remain can stay until another winter takes them but now I plant Clethra and Buttonbush. Although I personally rarely see pollinators frequenting them and they bloom less than butterfly bushes they are much better suited to my area/clay soil. And the Clethra smells up my backyard when it blooms with a fragrance like nature's perfume!

On a similar note, none of my swamp milkweed got to bloom this year because monarch caterpillars are decimating them. They regrow their leaves only to be eaten again. But that's OK because that's what they are there for.

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I don't think it is necessary to say that natives are preferred over butterfly bush in order to discourage planting butterfly bush--the fact that it is invasive in many places is reason enough.

But there is one native that I can now say IS preferred over the one (supposedly sterile) butterfly bush I do have: the "Jeana" phlox cultivar-- all the butterflies love it, and even the Monarchs used it as much as they used the Liatris Ligulistylus. It has attracted giant swallowtails, black swallowtails, spicebush swallowtails, ladies, red-spotted purples...

By the way, someone here is Massachusetts has been successfully raising Baltimore Checkerspots caterpillars that were found eating butterfly bush, so we can no longer say that it is not a host for anything. And Henry's elfins have "switched" to start using the horrible invasive buckthorns... so as awful as these invasives are, there perhaps is some hope in seeing some native butterflies adapt.

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Crunch Hardtack

Thank you for your interesting post butterflyer, especially regarding the "new" host plants.

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