These affordable flowering varieties will make your social distancing views come alive

By Steve Bender and Hannah Chubb
April 23, 2020 06:33 PM
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A garden filled with butterflies is a happy sight — especially when you’re stuck at home social distancing!

The winged beauties are great to have around for a number of reasons: they don’t sting, they don’t bite, they don’t devour plants (though their caterpillars sometime do), they pollinate flowers and they’re beautiful to see.

Unlike caterpillars, adult butterflies lack mouthparts for chewing. They only feed by using a long tube called a proboscis to suck the sweet nectar of flowers. Not just any plant’s flower will do.

To attract butterflies for an extended period, plants need to produce nectar-rich blossoms nonstop until a fall frost. The following 10 plants do just that.

1. Butterfly bush (Buddleia davidii). This aptly named shrub bears arching spikes of fragrant flowers in purple, blue, red, pink, and white. Most kinds grow 8 to 10 feet high, but new, compact types form mounds 2 to 3 feet tall. Buy It! $29,

Credit: Home Depot

2. Common zinnia (Zinnia elegans). One of the easily and quickest annuals to grow from seed, this flowers come in mixes that grow from 2 to 4 feet tall and offer just about every color but blue. Taller growers with single flowers that show their yellow centers attract the most butterflies. Buy It! $31,

3. Lantana (Lantana sp.). A perennial in mild-winter areas and an annual elsewhere, lantana is as tough-as-nails, enduring heat, drought, and poor soil. Rounded flower clusters may be a solid color or a combination of colors. Newer kinds grow about 2 feet tall and spread 4 to 6 feet. Buy It! $9,

4. Pentas (Pentas lanceolata). It’s hard to beat this tropical African native for continuous, eye-catching color. Spreading, multi-stemmed plants reach 2 to 3 feet tall and wide. Showy clusters of red, pink, white, or lavender star-shaped blooms appear atop the foliage. Buy It! $24,

Credit: Home Depot

5. Marigold (Tagetes sp.). Easy to start from seed or transplants, these old favorites grow 6 to 36 inches tall and bear edible flowers that range from yellow and orange to reddish-maroon. Removing spent flowers keeps them blooming. Buy It! $24,

Credit: Home Depot

6. Buttonbush (Cephalanthus occidentalis). If you aren’t familiar with this native shrub, you should be. Growing from 3 to 15 feet tall and thriving in wet soil, it flaunts remarkable, creamy white flowers that look like pincushions. ‘Sputnik’ has pink flowers. Buy It! $14,

7. Salvia (Salvia sp.). Dozens of species are available, including annuals, perennials, and shrubs. Spires of flowers in just about every color appear on plants from 1 to 5 feet high. Buy It! $25,

Credit: Home Depot

8. Common cosmos (Cosmos bipinnatus). Like zinnias and marigolds, these fast-growing annuals are simple to grow from seed scattered on the ground. Tall, graceful, lacy plants from 4 to 8 feet tall produce large white, pink, rose, red, lavender, or purple flowers. Buy It! $2 for pack of seeds,

9. Glossy abelia (Abelia x grandiflora). This old-fashioned, evergreen shrub grows 3 to 6 feet tall and wide and sports clusters of pink or white, bell-shaped blossoms. Buy It! $40,

Credit: Home Depot

10. Bee balm (Monarda didyma). A Southern favorite, this native perennial grows 2-4 feet tall with blossoms of red, pink, purple, or white. Plant mildew-resistant selections, such as ‘Jacob Cline’ (rose-red), ‘Mahogany’ (dark red), ‘Marshall’s Delight’ (purplish-pink), and ‘Violet Queen’ (purple). Buy It! $23,

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