Hanging out your own butterfly hangout

Wednesday, August 6, 2003

The Washington Post

Light and colorful, butterflies add a touch of whimsy to any back yard or terrace. They're also eager guests if you invite them. While some gardeners choose a butterfly bush or butterfly weed for this purpose, we're partial to an enticing hanging basket.

To draw your winged visitors in, you'll want to plant bright flowers loaded with nectar. There are many options, but we went with white and red verbena, an orange lantana, and blue scaevola, also known as "fan flower." Other possibilities for a hanging basket include aster, dianthus, marigold, zinnia, impatiens, sweet alyssum and petunia. Place the basket where it will receive at least a half-day of sun: Butterflies prefer warmth.

Once the basket is suspended, the visuals are great -- butterflies above, beside, among and below the basket of blooms. And because the flowers dangle, every breeze has the potential to carry a waft of perfume your way.

One last fringe benefit: Many of the plants that attract butterflies also draw hummingbirds. So sit back and enjoy the fauna.

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