In June we reported that Sugar Beach was revamping its gardens by installing plants that are native to Guanacaste. These species are well adapted to the local cycles of rain and drought, and they play a key role in supporting native wildlife, from our beloved howlers, to the vibrant hummingbirds and fantastical butterflies.
We’ve decided to take the initiative further. In August, Sugar Beach volunteers Sofia, Marcelo, Isaac and Marvin went to Potrero and helped Hazel Rodriguez’s 3rd grade glass plant a butterfly garden on the school grounds.
The idea was inspired by Willow Zurchowski from ProNativas who visited the class in June to explain the role native plants have to play in our fragile eco-system, their key factor being drought resistance. To underscore this point, we decided to build a garden with plants that are important to a thriving butterfly population. We let the students select the plants, based on what was available in local nurseries.
One of the most familiar species is Agave americana, a native of tropical America. The name “century plant” refers to the long time the plant takes to flower. The number of years before flowering occurs depends on the vigor of the individual plant, the richness of the soil and the climate; during these years the plant is storing in its fleshy leaves the nourishment required for the effort of flowering.
It is a common misconception that agaves are cacti. They are not related to cacti, nor are they closely related to Aloe whose leaves are similar in appearance.
Agave species are used as food plants by the larvae of some Lepidoptera (butterfly and moth) species including Batrachedra striolata, which has been recorded on A shawii.
Asclepias curassavica, commonly called Mexican Butterfly Weed, Blood-flower, Scarlet Milkweed or, Tropical Milkweed, is a species of flowering plant in the dogbane family, Apocynaceae. It is native to the American tropics.
It has a pantropical distribution as an introduced species. It is grown as an ornamental garden plant and as a source of food for butterflies. Asclepias curassavica is excellent in butterfly gardens.
Rabo de Gato / Purple Porterweed
Porterweeds are excellent nectar producers outperforming ALL other butterfly plants in the garden. Native to American tropics, the plants can survive in bright sun, high temperatures and rocky, saline soils.
Put a Santa Lucia in your shoe for luck or money. Butterflies like them, too!