I have a plot (Mpls city lot) that has had raspberries for 20 years but that...

Asked February 3, 2014, 3:26 PM EST

I have a plot (Mpls city lot) that has had raspberries for 20 years but that I'm going to convert to plants that are bee- and butterfly-friendly. It's about 8' by 20' and gets about 3-5 hours of direct sun during the summer. I have the Bee Lab list of plants that are bee-friendly. Can those be combined with plants that are also butterfly friendly (or perhaps some are both bee and butterfly friendly)? I'm thinking of going to Bachmans to get plants; are there other places that would have more? I would prefer to have perennials so they take care of themselves apart from occasional weeding and watering as needed. Thanks!

Hennepin County Minnesota

2 Responses

Thank you for the question. Planting bee and butterfly friendly plants is a wonderful endeavor. The University of Minnesota’s Bee Lab web site is a good place to start. I will include a few more resources for you to read at the end of my response.
There are perennial plants that nourish both bees and butterflies such as prairie clover, Joe Pye weed, milkweed, butterfly weed, lead plant or any of the Nepeta mint family; however, it is important to plan your garden so that there are flowers blooming in the spring, summer, and fall. Bees that overwinter here need a food source early in the spring, and need a fall food source to provide them with the energy to make it to spring. Different bloom times will also support butterflies in all stages of migration and it's important to remember that butterflies need proper plants for their larvae (caterpillar) to feed upon. I will include a link to important caterpillar plants at the end. There are resources other than Bachmans that you might want to consider. Since you live in Hennepin County, check out the Hennepin County Master Gardener spring plant sale. It is on May 17th this year. Please check out their website for directions and more complete information: http://hennepinmastergardeners.org/plantsale/
Another option is to go to your local Farmers markets. There are often many lovely native perennials that can be purchased at reasonable prices. The advantage of these last 2 options is that you can often talk with the growers themselves and learn if any pesticides were used on the plants that could in turn harm your bees and butterflies. Other bee and butterfly garden resources:
http://www.extension.umn.edu/garden/yard-garden/landscaping/butterfly-gardening/ http://www.xerces.org/wp-content/uploads/2010/01/uppermidwest-plants-for-bees-xerces.pdf

Thanks a lot! This is a great help. We will indeed try the sale on May 17.