Smart Planting in Costa Rica


Photo by Joan Weilers
Photo by Joan Weilers

Costa Rica is considered to possess the highest density of biodiversity of any country worldwide. While encompassing just one third of a percent of Earth’s landmass, approximately the size of West Virginia, in the United States, Costa Rica contains four percent of species estimated to exist on the entire planet. Hundreds of these species are endemic, meaning that they exist nowhere else on earth! Let’s help keep Costa Rica thriving strong.

Plant to Attract Butterflies

Visitors to Costa Rica struggle to find words for the mesmerizing butterfly, the Blue Morpho. The morpho has a characteristic float-and-fall flight pattern, rising and dipping lazily along its path, and this butterfly will stop you on yours. As you witness the effulgent blue tucked inside the morpho’s wings, you will be left smiling! In this morpho species, males look for food earlier in the morning and females come out several hours later, so keep your eyes posted. As an adult, the morpho favors the juices of decomposing fruit. As a caterpillar, it munches through leaves of host plants from the Fabaceae family.

Plant to Attract Hummingbirds

Four out of the 54 species of hummingbirds that are found in Costa Rica are endemic species, they are: the Mangrove Hummingbird (Amazilia boucardi), Alfaro’s Hummingbird (Amazilia alfaroana), Black-cheeked Ant-Tanager (Habia atrimaxillaris), and the Coppery-headed Emerald (Elvira cupreiceps). The mangrove hummingbird is commonly found in the Osa Peninsula. Hummingbirds are especially attracted to red flowers, and choosing flowers that bloom throughout the year will ensure that a steady supply of nectar remains available and they too will become steady visitors zipping around. Planting in clusters will also help draw their attention. Banana flowers, birds of paradise, hot lips, pentas and latana all make great planting choices!

Plant to Clean the Air

Take this locals tip home! Bringing oxygen producing plants into your home is a way to mimic the healthy lifestyle factors of longevity in humans from the longest lived cultures. Sansevieria trifasciata, also called snake plant or mother-in-law’s tongue, is both great indoors and out. And what makes it notably unique is that it converts an impressive amount of CO2 (carbon dioxide) to O2 (oxygen) at night, so it is great to have in your bedroom.

Plant to Reap Health Benefits

Turmeric is both beautiful and tasty! It is the spice that gives curry its yellow colour, and a pretty pink in the ginger family, it has been a staple in Ayurvedic medicine for roughly 6,000 years. It is known for its’ powerful anti-inflammatory effects and as a very strong antioxidant, it’s consumption is also scientifically linked to lowering heart disease and improving brain function. To get started let a small piece of the root grow from a cutting, plant it once it does grow roots and it will then take at least eight months before you can harvest your first batch.

Good luck!

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