Planting Asters to Attract Butterflies
In the fall, gardens are full of both asters and butterflies. There are lots of the white cabbage-type butterflies that have been around since early spring, monarchs preparing for their long journey south, yellow sulphurs doing their swirling dance in the air and scads of tiny brownish-orange butterflies whose names I don't even know. About once a day a red admiral or two pops through, flying quickly and never stopping anywhere very long. The butterflies land on the few flowerheads left on the butterfly bushes, then move on to the hundreds of small, daisy-like blossoms adorning the various asters. The colorful flyers seem especially partial to the taller aster varieties...maybe because those statuesque plants are closer to the sky? The lower growing asters, like those of the Woods series (Woods Blue, Woods Pink, etc.), also see their fair share of butterflies, skippers and pollinating insects.
Many asters have a tendency to self seed, which is a good thing. It's easy enough to grub out or transplant the surplus seedlings in the spring and summer, and having an every-increasing supply of these beautiful plants is a blessing in the fall. There will come a day, not long from now, when the asters fade and the butterflies are suddenly gone, and the growing season will begin to draw to a close. Thinking of that time coming soon makes both plants and insects seem even more beautiful right now.