The growing popularity of butterfly gardening has spurred sales of native plants at the garden center, and inspired gardeners across the U.S. to add attractive native plants to support insects in our landscapes.
Research into different characteristics of native plants and their links to biodiversity is catching up to the popularity of native plant gardening.
But Mt. Cuba Center researchers can tell you one thing for sure: Changing a plant's leaf colors to darker red or purple will stop insects from eating them.
Over three years, Mt. Cuba worked with professor Doug Tallamy, Ph.D., of the University of Delaware, to see if different kinds of cultivars affect what leaf-eating insects, like caterpillars, can eat.
What researchers found is that, with few exceptions, the ways plant breeders alter a plant’s foliage and growth habit does not appear to have an impact on a plant’s ability to feed leaf-munching insect species.