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Butterfly Catnip

If you’ve ever given your kitty catnip or dangled a rawhide in front of your pup, you understand just how magnetic and mouth-watering the right treat can be. You’ll also have a better understanding of the incredible power of Mexican Sunflowers.

Mexican Sunflowers are super attractors. Butterflies find them irresistible, swarming to the bright, tall flowers. These plants grow quickly, shooting up to shoulder height with great speed. All the while, Mexican Sunflowers require very little upkeep, and will happily fend for themselves as temperatures rise in the summer months. Their vibrant blooms resemble daisies and usually present a deep orange, yellowish color.

Before you run out and search for Mexican Sunflowers to add to your butterfly gardens, it’s important to know that there are actually two variations of this colorful crop - invasive, and non-invasive.

The University of Florida lists Tithonia Diversifolia (Mexican Sunflower) as a high invasion risk (Source: University of Florida). Planting this variation in your garden (or elsewhere) will likely lead to a rapid spread into neighboring areas and beyond.

If the idea of beautiful, bright, butterfly magnets is too enticing for you to pass up, you’re in luck! Tithonia Rotundifolia (also a Mexican Sunflower) is an even more attractive variation. It is not considered invasive or dangerous and can be planted wherever you’d like.

On a beautiful Saturday afternoon over the course of just a few hours, I spotted 8 different species of butterfly on my Mexican Sunflowers: a Monarch, Gulf Fritillary, Zebra Longwing, Eastern Black Swallowtail, Great Southern White, Cloudless Sulphur, Polydamas, and a Dorantes Longtail.



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