Create A Butterfly Garden

Create a butterfly garden! Types of flowers to plant along with other things that will attract butterflies.

Butterflies can be both a beautiful and useful addition to your garden. While they are fluttering around your garden gathering nectar, they are also pollinating your garden at the same time.

To entice butterflies to your garden, you must not only plant for the butterflies themselves, but also the caterpillars.

Butterflies go through several stages of life that all need to have a place in your garden. The egg laying, the caterpillar, the chrysalis and then the butterfly itself all need to have certain environments that you can provide.

Plants and flowers are of course the most important. Although you may want to check with your local County Extension Office to find out what type of butterflies are indigenous to your area, and specific items to plant. The suggestions that I will offer here will work in many areas of the country. There are over 700 different species of butterflies found in the United States, each will require and prefer certain foods. That is why it is important to check out your specific area. The life span of the butterfly ranges from 3 days to 6 months, but on the average they live for 2 to 3 months.

You will need to choose plants and flowers for both the butterflies and the caterpillars to feed on, here is just an example of some things that both like to feed on in my area. Ageratum, Bee Balm, Calendula, Coneflower, Dahlia, Geranium, Hibiscus, Impatiens, Marigolds, Milkweed, Herbs in the Mint family, Phlox, Salvia, Snapdragons, Yarrow, Yellow Sage and Zinnias. Also heirloom type plants such as Honeysuckle, Dame's-Rocket, Cosmos, Nasturtium, Hollyhocks, Sweet Peas, Joe-Pye Weed, Pinks and Sweet William.

Be sure to plant these in a sunny area for the butterflies. Since they are cold blooded they require sun to stay warm, they will avoid shady areas. These are best planted in a southern exposure.

Also try to plant out of the wind, a butterflies' wings are very fragile. If possible, do your planting near a wall or fence that will shelter the wind from your garden. Or plant a hedge of Lilacs, Butterfly Bushes or Viburnum. These hedges and shrubs will also provide nighttime shelter for the butterflies.

Caterpillars are particularly fond of Milkweed, Nettles, Dill, Parsley, Queen Annes Lace, Carrots, Fennel and Hackberry. Even though some of these items have no place in your garden, if you have a spot, slightly away from the rest of the garden, be sure that these non-garden items are available for the caterpillars to eat.

If you would like to see the butterflies up close and personal, try planting some of your plants in window boxes. This will bring them very close to your home, where you can sit and watch them flitting from flower to flower.

While butterflies do not like to drink from "open water sources", you can provide a spot for them to drink. Simply sink a shallow pan or pie plate into the ground, filling it with sand or rocks before filling with water. The butterflies will not mind getting their feet a little wet, but won't get their entire body wet to drink.

Also since butterflies enjoy sunbathing, be sure to add a few rocks around your garden in direct sunlight. Not only will the rocks add to the atmosphere in your garden, they will make wonderful resting places for your butterflies.

While butterfly houses have become quite popular in recent years, many people are skeptical on how well they work. They were actually designed for butterflies to hibernate during the winter months. These look similar to a long narrow bird house, with long narrow slots in the front instead of a hole. In order for these to work, they should be placed in a damp, woody area, since butterflies like to hibernate in dead logs and under the bark of trees. They also prefer their hibernation spot to be low to the ground, so mount the houses close to the ground, instead of on a tall pole.

Be very careful also not to use pesticides in your garden. Since both the caterpillars and the butterflies depend on the plants in your garden for food, using pesticides on your plants and flowers will kill these delicate creatures.

If you try some of these simple planting ideas, you may invite a beautiful array of butterflies to your garden. Just remember that you need to supply areas for all the stages of the butterflies life, not just the beautiful stage, in order for them to be present in your garden.

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