"What happened to my pearly everlasting?"
A hardy, salt- and drought-tolerant beauty, Pearly everlasting (Anaphalis margaritacea) is a mainstay in many of Blooming Boulevards’ boulevard gardens. It has small, long-lasting white and yellow blooms which attract many native bees.
It is also one of the native host plants for American lady butterflies – in fact some of the first pearly everlasting plants I put in my garden were visited by American ladies within days of planting!
American ladies are an abundant species that can be found across the continent. The upper side of their wings is vibrant orange with contrasting black and white. The underside of the wings are much more subdued, which allows them to camouflage within the plants.
Females lay their eggs on the plant, which becomes the offspring’s larval food source. During this period, the plants can look a little shabby – leaves appear strung together with wispy white webbing and frass accumulates on the plant. But within days you’ll see dozens of little black caterpillars hiding out between the leaves – they’re food for birds and some insects, including wasps, so those hideouts are important!
After a few weeks of feeding and growing, the caterpillars eventually form a chrysalis. Out of the chrysalis emerges a brand new adult painted lady butterfly.
Within a few days the plant recovers from the sticky metamorphosis and blooms appear in early or mid-July. The American ladies also feed on the plant’s rich floral nectar, making them an important pollinator for the plant.
Pearly everlasting is a great plant to include in a boulevard garden as it’s tough and salt-tolerant, but also is ecologically important and brings a lot of activity to the garden!