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Ask the expert: Flowers for attracting butterflies

Wisconsin State Farmer
Dinner plate blossoms and a tough, shrubby growth form make hardy hibiscus, or rose mallow, a favorite among Wisconsin gardeners.

Q: My hardy hibiscus isn't coming up yet. What should I do?

A: Have patience. Hardy hibiscus are late arrivals and often do not begin to bud out or show new growth until early June. Wait several weeks and you will be rewarded with beautiful new greenery, followed by massive blooms beginning in August.

Q: What are some unusual annuals for attracting hummingbirds and butterflies? I would like some new ideas.

A: New salvias and verbenas in salmon and peach are some of my favorites, along with the extremely fragrant nemesias and traditional favorites such as pineapple sage, black and blue salvia and fuschias.

Q: I've seen many butterflies the past few days. There aren't many flowers blooming, so how do they survive?

A: Many of the early flying butterflies that we see now feed upon set up losing from trees. They also feed upon blooming willows, maples and others high in the treetops. Dandelions are a early spring favorite for many butterflies, as well as bees. So let them grow and enjoy the winged visitors that frolic among them.

Q: Do sandhill cranes nest in Wisconsin?

A: Yes, while many sandhills are migrating through on their way north, a large population nests in our state. Cranes have even been spotted nesting in the heart of some of our largest communities.