Butterfly Gardens and How to Make One
Thinking of Putting In a Butterfly Garden This Year?
Bring Butterflies Into Your Garden
There's something positively peaceful about watching a butterfly flit around your yard. Gracefully, it investigates various plants and flowers, showing off its pretty wings as it looks for some tasty treats. After a few minutes, it will generally move on to a neighbour's garden or other nearby oasis.
Usually, it is by chance that we catch a glimpse of these delicate beauties but with a little planning, you can turn your yard into a butterfly mecca. Butterfly gardens do not have to be complicated. All you need is the right mixture of sunshine, plants and treats.
Location, Location, Location
Most butterflies are sun worshipers. I understand this, as I am of the same bent. The point is, you aren't likely to attract butterflies to your shade garden. Choose a section of the yard that gets five hours or more of full sun a day. The ideal location also provides some shelter from the wind.
If you're an apartment dweller, take heart because you too can lure butterflies to your sunny windowsill, rooftop terrace or balcony.
Now that you have a good location, it's time to introduce plants and other nummies that will act as a siren call to passing butterflies.
Depending on what part of the world you live in, you may want to investigate specific plantings. Here in North America, we commonly see the Monarch*. Different species prefer different plants but generally speaking, butterflies are attracted to groupings of colourful flowers. Select brightly coloured blooms with short tubes that will make it easy for them to get their probosces inside and suck out that sweet nectar.
To encourage a nursery, it also helps to have the right type of plants around. For us here in North America, milkweed is what provides food for Monarch larva. If you happen to have some Queen Anne's Lace (wild carrot) around, you may find caterpillars, as they like to eat that particular wild flower.
* Update note 2017: Previously found in abundance, Monarchs have become nearly impossible to find where we live. That saddens me, hope their numbers will increase and we see a return of them soon.
Put Treats in Your Butterfly Gardens
Having a sunny, protected yard with lots of colourful plants is good for bringing in our little winged friends. Add a few additional treats and your yard is bound to become a butterfly magnet.
One thing you can do to up the wow factor is to create a puddle in your garden for butterflies to sip from. This will give them a place from which to draw the salt and minerals they need. Add a few flat rocks for resting and you have the perfect watering hole.
If you happen to have some fruit that's going rotten, don't throw it in the garbage. Butterflies have a sweet tooth and will appreciate you scattering small bits of peaches or plums around for them. If you don't happen to have any fruit, an alternative is a small, shallow dish of sugar water.
Butterfly Gardens Go Viral
One butterfly will tell two friends, then they'll tell two friends and pretty soon, it's standing room only. Take a number and have a seat. However, not all of your new patrons will be butterflies. Lush, healthy butterfly gardens attract a myriad of beneficial insects, which help reduce harmful pests, naturally.
Please, do not use pesticides in or near your butterfly garden. If nature doesn't take care of your pest problem, use insecticidal soaps or other non-harmful methods.
Open Your Butterfly Sanctuary Now
You're ready to get started now. Scout out a sunny, wind protected corner of the yard, a windowsill or balcony, put in butterfly plants, give them a drinking hole and some treats. Once these beautiful creatures know you're open for business, they'll return time and again. It's a win/win situation, you both benefit.
Continue to provide a safe, nurturing sanctuary and your butterfly gardens and their population will thrive. You'll be able to sit on the porch and enjoy many hours of lazy, relaxing butterfly watching.
This Old House Butterfly Garden Tutorial
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A Stunner in Black and White
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