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Creating Stunning Butterfly Gardens at Home

Updated on March 25, 2016
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One of Jaynie's many hobbies is home improvement on a budget and another is sharing great ideas with readers.

Creating Stunning Butterfly Gardens

Butterflies are magical, stunning creatures that liven any garden with their spectacular colors and shapes. Simply watching these winged creatures float, as if weightless, through the air can be deeply relaxing and cathartic. Not a lot of people give much thought to how they might attract butterflies to their own gardens so that they can enjoy them whenever they like. But here are a few tips that might get you headed in the right direction.

Like any other living creatures, butterflies will need the basics in order to thrive; a food source, a place to lay eggs and a place to hibernate. Knowing what attracts the butterflies will help you maintain an abundance of them in your private gardens. You must first research which plants will attract the species you desire. Then find out which of these plants will thrive in the zone in which you live and the basic care and planting requirements of each, i.e. soil conditions, watering needs, sunlight requirements, etc. Planting multicolored flowers not only will attract the stunning creatures, but will also provide you with a spectacular looking garden that will be the envy of all your neighbors.

Butterfly gardens come in all shapes and sizes from window boxes to larger gardens designed to attract a variety of species. Know which species of butterflies are native to your area and whether they intend to use each plant for food or for laying eggs. Gardens can be enhanced with butterfly houses and other ornaments, sculptures or fountains. Creating a winding footpath using flagstone, bricks or wooden planks, through your gardens adds a quaint, village feel.

If you are using a combination of perennials and annuals, consider planting annuals in the front because you will have to replant them each year. Know which plants spread and which do not so that you avoid overly invasive species that may choke off other less hearty plants. Also note that many species are attracted to a variety of herbs, trees and shrubs, so do not assume that your garden will consist only of brightly colored flowers.

Hummingbirds are often drawn to the same plants to which butterflies are attracted. In order to help boost your chances of attracting these elusive creatures, add hummingbird feeders with nectar feed.

You can always check with your local garden shops if you have questions about which plants to select. Be sure to tell them that you are looking to create a butterfly garden and most should be able to point you in the right direction.

The following are some of the most colorful, attractive butterfly plants around and examples of species that are attracted to them.

Pink Butterfly Bush a.k.a Buddleia Davidii “Pink Delight”

This plant is easy to grow in most soil conditions, making it an ideal choice for your garden. The blooms make lovely cut flowers and attract both butterflies and hummingbirds.

Tropical Milkweed Plant a.k.a. Asclepias Curassavica; Bloodflower or Mexican Milkweed (Annual)

This plant boasts stunningly bright orange or yellow blooms. Butterflies use them for laying eggs. If you save the seeds, you can start your own plants from season to season. Monarchs are especially fond of milkweed. They also like zinnias, New England Aster, oriental lilies, and butterfly bushes.

Queen Anne’s Lace a.k.a. Wild Carrot.  The carrots we eat today actually originated from this plant which grows well in dry, open areas to a height of four feet. It is a biennial, meaning that it grows for two years, yet this plant only flowers in its second year. It is often considered a weed, yet it attracts the magnificent eastern black swallowtail.

Daisies attract the American Painted Lady butterfly. They are easy to find and easy to grow and make nice accents between other more colorful plants. There is something innocent and reminiscent of childhood about the daisy, and that purity makes it a perfect choice for inclusion. 

The common buckeye is attracted to snapdragons a.k.a antirrhinum. The spiky, multicolored blossoms of these delicate beauties make excellent cut flowers. 

Violets can add beautiful edging to your butterfly garden and may even attract the greater spangled fritillary butterfly. Much like the daily, their purple or pink blossoms are synonymous with innocence and purity.

Purple coneflowers, New England aster, zinnias and marigolds are among several swallowtail’s favorites as they produce nectar upon which various swallowtail species like to feed. 

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© 2010 Jaynie2000


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