Create A Butterfly Garden

Create a butterfly garden. Attract butterflies to your garden by planting nectar rich flowers and host plants. Learn other ways to entice butterflies into visitng your back yard.

What can add picturesque beauty to your flower garden? In a word: butterflies. There are so many great ways to attract these colorful, winged beauties to your garden. Just by adding some nectar rich plants and mud puddles to your landscape will attract butterflies and keep them floating back for more.

There are many different species of butterflies and with that come a varied preference in what they like to eat. Many butterflies love nectar and there are a plethora of flowers that will fill their sweet tooth. It helps to choose plants that enjoy full sun and that are rich in nectar. Planting them in clusters will help entice these elegant, colorful insects to your garden. When deciding what to plant it is a good idea to plan ahead throughout the seasons. Layering plants in your garden by season is beneficial because it keeps a constant food source for the butterfly, who become active in Spring and soar on till frost. Layering your garden with Spring bloomers, followed by Summer bloomers and then Fall bloomers will ensure that the butterflies always will have a myriad of choices. Doing this, will save them from searching elsewhere for their food source after the spring blooms have disappeared. Although annuals don't bloom year after year they are a good steady source of food for your winged friends. The Zinnia is a great annual pick. Perennials because they re-bloom every year are a good choice for your butterfly garden. To start out, in the Spring the lilac bush and the Scabiosa are great attractions. The Scabiosa will bloom right on through Fall staying a great food source for your colorful visitors. On through summer the Poker primrose is an early summer bloomer and will have gorgeous, colorful spiked blooms that will last up to five weeks taking you mid to late summer. The Orange glory flower with its vibrant, fiery blooms take over in mid-summer, as do the Hibiscus with its large blooms. Also starting around mid-summer are the Butterfly bush and the Kobold blazing stars adding to the smorgasbord of color and food that keep butterflies interested in being your dinner guests. In late summer, when a lot of flowers start dying off for their winter sleep, the Blue Mist Shrub is beginning to burst with its pretty blue blooms.

You've probably heard of hummingbird feeders. Well, there are also feeders for butterflies and these offer another great food source. You can mix your own sugar solution by adding one part sugar to four parts water or you can buy nectar that can be mixed with water. It is important to keep your feeder clean. Sugar water can become moldy in humid weather. Clean the feeder with hot soapy water every other day in this type of weather. This will help keep the nectar source fresh and appealing to your butterfly friends.



Butterfly approved perennials:

Asters

Bee-balm

Black-eyed susan

Daylily

Phlox

Hollyhock

Hibiscus

Orange glory flower

Poker primrose

Kobold blazing stars

Butterfly approved annuals and biennials:

Cosmos

Impatiens

Sedum

Verbena

Purple Cone Flower

Butterfly approved trees and shrubs:

Rose of sharon

Butterfly bush

Spiraea

Pear

Blueberry

Viburnum

Scabiosa

Blue Mist Shrub

These are only a few plant suggestions that will get you started on your way to butterfly gardening. Your local garden shop should be able to assist you with any questions and add to the menu that will delight and attract the butterflies in your area.

Who doesn't like a drink with their meal? Butterflies are no exception. They need a water source too and there are several ways you can provide this. A bird bath is a good way for a butterfly to drink. The only thing you will need to do is put some rocks in the bath, so the depth isn't daunting and the butterfly will have somewhere to perch while drinking. The other thing butterflies like are mud puddles. Some male butterflies actually congregate at the mud puddle in colorful clusters. The mud puddles provide minerals that some species of butterfly need and do not receive from nectar rich plants. You can create a mud puddle in your backyard several ways. Natural mud puddles will form of course after a rain, so nature does provide. However, you can help too, by using a simple plastic container found in your own home. A terra cotta saucer will also serve the purpose. A good natural container is a tree stump. Sometimes, people cut down very old trees but have no way of getting the stump out of the ground. It's just too big. This would make a perfect holding bay for mud. All you have to do is chip away a small area in the stump with a hatchet. Be sure to wear safety glasses. It may take some time and patience but aestically it will be great. Around the stump, you could plant any of the flowers that will enhance this little haven and entice the winged beauties to check it out. Whatever you choose, bury it to the rim and then fill it with your garden soil. Fill it with water, keep it moist, and they will come.

Eating and drinking are not the only activities butterflies enjoy. Believe it or not, butterflies are bathing beauties; that is they like to sun themselves on a rock or any reflective, sunny location. Actually, the butterfly is catching those morning rays to warm their bodies. Since they are an insect and are cold blooded, butterflies need to warm their bodies before they can become active for the day. Keeping a piece of driftwood or flat rocks in a sunny location will invite the butterfly to rejuvenate itself for its colorful flight throughout the day.

A good way to appeal to a female butterfly and get her to visit your garden is to supply her with host plants. A host plant is a place where she will lay her eggs. The female butterfly is very choosey when deciding on a host plant and it is determined by what species of caterpillar is hatching from the egg. Certain species feed off of certain host plants. It is a good idea to know what species of butterflies frequent your garden before planting your host plants. This way, you will be better able to determine what host plant(s) will be beneficial. If you are not sure what types of butterflies visit your area, a local museum or zoo may be able to provide you with this information.

Butterfly approved host plants:

Milkweed

Parsley

Hollyhock

Nettles

Spicebush

There are lots of benefits to attracting butterflies to your garden. The butterfly population is becoming increasingly diminished due to urban development. Creating a butterfly haven, where they can get the nectar rich diet they require to maintain their beautiful flight, will help keep these natural beauties from becoming extinct. Another great bonus to attracting butterflies to your garden is that they are not the only visitors you will receive. Most of the high nectar flowers that attract butterflies also attract hummingbirds. By planting nectar rich plants and filling a feeder you will be inviting a kaleidoscope of color into your garden. Keep your cameras handy, enjoy, and good luck!

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