Many gardeners today are turning to a more natural form of gardening. Discovering indigenous plants from their own area, becoming more conscious of conservation, and preserving the local wildlife by enticing the wildlife into their gardens. What could be more natural than a butterfly garden?
Growing a butterfly garden is simple if you learn what attracts butterflies and what will keep them coming back year after year. When planting a garden for butterflies you should have a balance between nectar plants and host plants. Nectar plants are what draw an adult butterfly to feed. Host plants are for the larva and may lure the females of a species to lay their eggs on the right plants.
One of the most widely recognized host plants is the milkweed plant. It is not a particularly attractive plant and most people consider them weeds, but they are magnets for the Monarch butterfly. A few of the more appealing host plants and trees include:
- Queen Ann’s Lace
Nectar plants are just as important as the host plants in drawing butterflies to your garden. Luckily, so many flowers that attract butterflies are bright and showy. This will give you a beautiful flower garden in addition to a yearly visit from the local butterfly population. Here is a list of some of the more popular nectar flowers:
- Some lilies
- Sweet pea
- Butterfly Bush
- Black-eyed Susan
When deciding between perennial and annual you should consider the merits of both. Perennials will come back year after year, which means less work for you with planting. Annuals will only grow for a year, but they bloom continually, resulting in a constant supply of nectar for most of the growing season. A mix of perennial and annual plants can be an ideal garden when attracting butterflies to your garden.
There are no set rules for plants and designs when creating the perfect butterfly garden. Most butterfly gardeners will tell you that they recreate portions of their gardens each year. If you remember to incorporate nectar, shelter, sun, and puddles in your butterfly garden, you will discover have created a garden you can be proud of that is also a haven for butterflies.
As with all animals, a place to shelter in the rain or windy weather is important. This is easily achieved within a flower garden. Planting the occasional bush or windbreak will go a long way in keeping the butterflies in your garden.
Remember to plant in an area that will receive plenty of sunshine. You can do all this by designing a garden that is appealing to you as well as the butterflies. Place the larger plants and bushes in the back of the garden. Plant progressively smaller flowers towards the front will make for an attractive garden that creates a haven for butterflies.
Water is another important factor when enticing butterflies to your garden. They receive nutrients and salts from small puddles after rain. This is especially important for the males as the minerals are said to help with the reproduction in some species. If it is particularly dry where you are or you haven’t had rain in a while, you might want to make puddles or small pools of water for the butterflies.
Butterflies will puddle around these areas in groups. You may have noticed after the rain how a few may congregate to these puddles for a few moments. Try to incorporate a little water near your flower garden for this reason.
Another thing to remember when growing a butterfly garden is pesticides. Many chemicals found in pesticides are dangerous to them and should be avoided if possible. If uninvited pests are a real problem for you, look into natural or organic pest control options. You should ask your local nursery about natural pesticide alternatives and might be suitable for the butterflies in your area. In an ideal butterfly garden, no chemical pesticides should be used.
Butterflies have a very short lifespan, many living no more than a couple of weeks, while some species live for nearly a year. Some species such as the Monarch will migrate thousands of miles in cooler weather to hibernate in warmer climates. Therefore, you can expect to have the most butterfly activity in your garden from spring to early fall.
Butterfly gardening has become increasingly popular in recent years as more people become aware of the importance of preserving natural habitats. With a little research on butterflies and plants indigenous to your area, you can create a beautiful landscape while discovering the joys of native butterflies and wildlife in your area.