Attracting Butterflies with Native Michigan Plants
While the Little Traverse Conservancy works on stewardship projects throughout the year on our preserves, we also would like to provide some ideas to our members on ways to improve the aesthetics and wildlife habitat on their own land. A project that almost anyone can do, whether it is in a small garden or in a large backyard, is to plant native species of flowers, shrubs, or trees to attract wildlife. There is no better time than now to start preparing for wildlife plantings that will attract our summer visitors.
Over one hundred and fifty species of butterflies are found in Michigan. Many of these species prefer specific plants during different life stages. Planting native plant species provides habitat for butterflies that rely on the abundance of a specific food source for survival. The following list is comprised of native species of wildflowers and shrubs that will attract a variety of butterflies as well as hummingbirds. In order to provide continuous food for butterflies it is important to plant an assortment of species so that there will be blossoms throughout the season. Some of these plants may be available at a local nursery or garden center and others will need to be started from seed or ordered from a nursery that specializes in native plants. All species listed are native to northern Michigan. Local natural resource agencies may be of additional assistance with determining which species are best suited for your property or region.
Wildflowers Shade Requirements and Planting Season
Shade Spring Tall
Thistle (Cirsium muticum)
Blue Stemmed Goldenrod (Solidago caesia) Shade Fall
Flower (Lobelia cardinalis)
Wild Mint (Mentha arvensis) Sun Summer
Smooth Aster (Aster laevis) Sun Fall
Swamp Aster (Aster puniceus) Sun Fall
Chokecherry (Prunus virginia)
Gray Dogwood (Cornus foemina)
Highbush Blackberry (Rubus alleghaniensis)
Nannyberry (Viburnum lentago)
Red Osier Dogwood (Cornus stolonifera)
Serviceberry (Amelanchier laevis/arborea)
Silky Dogwood (Cornus amomum)
Special thanks to Ed Voss for assistance with this article.