Garden Travels: Butterflies of Georgia


Who loves butterflies?! I would guess everyone thrills to see them in their garden. While touring our way through Georgia recently, I saw all sorts of beauties and enjoyed photographing them… when they’d hold still long enough, that is!

butterfliesThis beautiful orange-and-black butterfly (photo to left) is a Gulf Fritillary. And the top photo is of a Zebra Heliconium.

Whenever I saw a lot of butterfly activity, I would take note of the plants they seemed most drawn to. The common denominators were salvias, lantanas, butterfly bush (Buddleia) and, as you would expect, butterfly weed (Asclepias).

Here in Spokane, we can grow hardy salvias — such as S. sylvestris ‘May Night’ — as perennials, but all other salvias have to be grown as annuals. And unfortunately, the annual types were the ones that really got the butterflies’ attention. Darn! But plenty of beautiful annual salvias are available to us at nurseries each year and they are well worth adding to our garden beds because they’ll attract hummingbirds as well.

Lantanas are also annuals that are readily available and easy to grow. Just give them plenty of sunshine and watch the birds, bees and butterflies gather.

butterfliesAnother annual they were flocking to in the Georgia gardens I visited was zinnias. I grow lots of these in my garden every year because they’re easy to start from seed, beautiful and make great cut flowers. (this is a Clouded Sulphur butterfly in the photo to the right)

Buddleias, or butterfly bushes, will grow in this region year after year, provided you select a cultivar hardy down to USDA zone 5. Fortunately, the majority of them are that hardy.

I also noticed butterflies on and around butterfly weed (Asclepias) which we can grow from seed here. Mine have reseeded from year to year, but not aggressively.

Here are more photos of the butterflies we saw:


  1. Eastern Tiger Swallowtail


2. The underside of a Gulf Fritillary


3. Clouded Sulphur butterfly on salvia.

So if you want to attract butterflies to your garden next year, put some of these plants on your must-have list and watch these winged beauties come in! If you happen to live in the Inland Northwest like I do, you probably won’t be seeing the butterflies above, but we still get plenty of lovely ones to admire here!