Luring butterflies to a perennial garden adds a bit of movement and wildlife interest. As summer turns to fall, it's important to include plants that are easy for butterflies to land upon and drink the flowers' nectar. Stonecrops (Sedum spp.) are just the low-maintenance plants for sunny garden spots. Many different forms, mature heights and flower colours occur in species of Sedum, so plant several types for added textural interest. In North America, stonecrops are frequently visited by monarchs and painted lady butterflies.
Also called "everlasting," showy stonecrop (Sedum spectabile) is an upright-stemmed, clumping species that flowers in late summer. Native to China and Korea, the flower clusters are flat and broad and vary in colour from creamy white to pink to rosy mauve. Four varieties that you may often encounter in plant nurseries that are worth purchasing are Brilliant (pink flowers), Carmen (deep mauve-pink blossoms), Iceberg (white flowers), and Stemberglut (deep pink flowers), which is also known as September Glow. All these plants typically grow about 18 inches tall and equally wide.
Late summer and early autumn finds the loosely upright stems of orpine (Sedum telephium) bearing pink-purple flower clusters that butterflies will visit. This succulent perennial grows 24 inches tall and 12 to 16 inches wide and has origins across much of northern Eurasia. Purplish stems and leaves grow upon the varieties Atropurpureum and Munstead Dark Red.
True to its name, this plant (Sedum sieboldii) blooms in October, providing among the last flowers for butterflies to eat nectar from before the fall frosts. Native to Japan, this low, sprawling species has lavender-pale blue leaves and pink flower clusters. It grows only 4 inches tall but 18 inches wide.
Two hybrid stonecrops that are widely grown in perennial gardens worthwhile for attractive butterflies are the Autumn Joy and Vera Jameson varieties. Autumn Joy (also sold as Herbstfreude) grows 20 to 24 inches tall and wide and produces large flat clusters of rosy pink flowers that become more bronze-coloured in early autumn. Vera Jameson has purplish foliage and stems that are loose and sprawling, creating a plant about 12 inches tall and 18 inches wide. It displays delicate pink flower clusters in late summer.