Want to attract more butterflies to your garden this summer? Pentas (Egyptian starflower) (Pentas lanceolata) is what you should be planting. Pentas are one of the best pollinator-attracting plants around. Flower colors range from red, pale lavender, pink and white.Pentas blooms all summer long, even during the hottest weather conditions. The large clusters of star-shaped blooms attract butterflies, bees and an occasional hummingbird. These annual flowers perform well both in garden beds and in large containers. Keep plants deadheaded and remove any spent blooms to encourage constant flowering.
Pentas plants are annuals in most U.S. climates (zone 10 hardy). The overall habit of these plants is neat and compact. If plants get too long and woody, cut them back by one-half and feed them with a water soluble fertilizer such as Miracle-Gro™, Jacks™, or Schultz™. Tall leggy transplants should be tipped back to develop more branching.
Overall, pentas are very easy to maintain. Newer varieties have improved disease resistance and grow shorter, e.g. more compact in habit. Pentas are troubled by few diseases and should be inspected for insects like aphids (in cool springs) and spider mites (dry hot summer periods).
Pentas prefer to be planted in full sun and in moist, well-drained soil. Pentas will dry out in hot summers and should be irrigated weekly during these times.
Leading cultivar series are Graffiti™ and Kaleidoscope™ (compact growers); Butterfly, Starla, and Northern Lights (taller growing).