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Nectar-producing plants

Spotted Joe-pye weed is particularly attractive for butterflies
Photo: Jardin botanique de Montréal (Michel Tremblay)

If your beds are full of roses, lilies and peonies, you won't attract many butterflies. Unfortunately, most of these plants produce very little nectar. As a rule, perennials produce more nectar than annuals, with a few exceptions: common heliotrope (Heliotropium arborescens), cosmos (Cosmos bipinnatus) and Mexican sunflower (Tithonia rotundifolia) are good sources of food.

It's best to offer a variety of plants, including perennials, annuals, herbs, climbers and shrubs.

Choose simple flowers, which generally produce larger amounts of more readily accessible nectar.

Plan for a succession of blooms from May to October. You'll be sure to see butterflies in your garden all summer long if you provide them with a constant source of nectar.

While you should start with highly fragrant yellow or mauve flowers, remember that a wide palette of colours will be very attractive for both you and your winged guests.

Add a few "star" species to your garden, a few plants that are particularly attractive for butterflies, including spotted Joe-pye weed, milkweed, yellow sage and star cluster, to improve your chances of success.

Butterfly bush (Buddleja davidii) is another plant that is well-known for being irresistible to many butterfly species. It is not very hardy in the Montréal region, however, even with winter protection.

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