Who Put The Opiate In My Autumn Joy?

Who Put The Opiate In My Autumn Joy?

When does a butterfly not behave normally? When the butterfly is drugged, that's when! I've tried to get close enough to an American Painted Lady for YEARS. At eight feet, they get skittish. At six, they were gone. Maybe it was my deodorant. But this year? Now? Right outside my front door?

They will not depart from the Autumn Joy sedum. My cat can stand right next to the plant, wave her tail about--nada. Zilch. Nuthin'. They will NOT be moved. 

Obviously, somebody has been pouring cocaine into the soil, here. Or something. I really don't think it's the worm poo. 

This is actually not "Autumn Joy" sedum, which hasn't yet bloomed in our yard. But "Who Put Opiate In My Autumn Joy" sounded better than "Who Put Opiate In My Sedum." I assure you that the butterflies WILL be on the AJ shortly!

And it's not just one of 'em, either. These two were in place on the sedum--literally--for more than an hour. If that's not a sign of addiction, I don't know what is. 

All kidding aside, the attention being paid to the sedum is mind boggling. This is not the only thing blooming in the yard--the agastache and turtlehead are still at it, for pete's sake. Not to mention the swamp sunflower. But the Autumn Joy has been attracting a host of nectar-loving insects, and none of them want to leave. I don't remember an impact of this magnitude in years previous, so I'm at a loss as to what has contributed to the "ultimate deliciousness" that has manifest this time around. 

If you're gardening for pollinators, you might want to plant some. Good in zones 7 through 9. Likes dry soil. Ours is up against a brick house with southern exposure, so even though we run into zone 6 (depending on the winter), this sedum has had no trouble. Note: it is not a native. But as I've said before, I am personally more vested in protecting pollinators and providing as close to year-round pollen and nectar sources than I am in sticking to a "natives only" policy. With the need for pollinators getting dire, we really can't afford to cut off our noses to spite our faces. 

So in addition to the

Agastache

,

Chelone

,

Helianthus

,

Physostegia

,

Eupatorium

, and

Actaea

that are blooming (all natives), we have some sedum x Autumn Joy. This is by far the most popular, next to the joe-pye weed (Eupatorium). The true native joe-pye is approximately six feet tall. Autumn Joy is one to two feet. I'm going to have a whole lot more luck encouraging my neighbors to plant Autumn Joy than I am encouraging them to plant joe-pye. I really don't care, as long as they plant something that will do the pollinators some good, as opposed to Knock-Out roses, for instance. 

Like I can control what my neighbors plant. 

We can't, of course. Which is why, with our really small yard, we try really hard to make sure it is both a great habitat and ATTRACTIVE TO AVERAGE HOMEOWNERS. They can't be flogged into compliance. I've tried. But they respond very well to "pretty!" "What IS that?" "Is it hard to take care of?" "Will I have to water it all the time?" "Ooo! Look at all the butterflies!"

With natives, we know that if we use plants "born" in a given zip code, they are relatively trouble-free. Always a good argument for natives. But for those in developments, urban settings and the like that have to get along with their neighbors or obey certain onerous ordinances, choosing the better-behaved cultivar or the occasional non-native should not be treated as a sin by those of us devoted to planting as many natives as we can get our hands on. 

So don't be too hard on your friends and neighbors. Give 'em some Autumn Joy. You'll make the butterflies happy. 

Sources:  

Vanessa Virginiensis

Pure Pink Sunset

Pure Pink Sunset

Learn to Speak Prairie Dog!

Learn to Speak Prairie Dog!