Planting Hollyhocks To Attract Butterflies
Hollyhocks actually are a variety of different flowers and plants that are part of the mallow family. You can find varieties that are cultivated as a ground cover while other varieties grow to almost 9 feet tall. These plants bloom in a multitude of colors that range from white to light pinks, dark pinks and blacks. Plant hollyhocks to attract caterpillars and butterflies to your garden.
Caterpillars actually seek out the nectar from hollyhock plant varieties. They have sweet nectar that can sustain the caterpillar through its transformation into a butterfly. They attach themselves to the stem of the plant and drill into the stem to obtain a source of nectar. Caterpillars have been known to come in droves to some hollyhock gardens causing the plants to die from lack of nutrition.
The hollyhock flower attracts butterflies with its flowers and fragrant scent. The butterfly can use the hollyhock nectar for food and use the plant itself for lodging during rest periods. Butterflies tend to migrate towards the type of plant that they feed off of while in the caterpillar stage. Each type of butterfly has its favorite type of plant and the best butterfly gardens will have many different types available for them to choose from.
Where To Plant
You can plant hollyhocks almost anywhere. They bloom from late spring into fall and can be planted in pots or in the ground. They are a perennial plant so that means they will come back year after year. They are also self propagating so unless you want more plants you will need to tend to the hollyhock to prevent it from spreading. The plant also has a very deep tap root, so if you do not remove it completely when transplanting or removing the plant it will grow back. The ability to plant the hollyhock in a pot will also allow those without yards to create a sort of oasis for butterflies in an urban area.
Butterfly gardens also have some downsides. Caterpillars can overwhelm the plants and drain them of nutrients causing them to die. This also can threaten the life of the caterpillar. If you only have a few caterpillars on the stem or plant then the odds of them doing too much damage are low. You can try to minimize damage by not allowing them to accumulate at such large numbers.
If you are planning on creating a butterfly garden then the hollyhock plant is a must have. There are other flowers that attract butterflies as well and you should do some research to find the butterflies in your area and what they are attracted to. Doing so will leave you with a butterfly garden that will attract butterflies from miles around.