6 TIPS TO CREATE THE ULTIMATE BUTTERFLY GARDEN
A Butterfly Garden can be a wonderful place!
Oh, the magical butterfly, lighting soft on the edges of the most delicate flower. Real life fairies, floating among us in an array of colors and a kaleidoscope of patterns. For centuries, gardens have been designed to attract these, most magnificent of insects.
1. Where in the heck are you? A Butterfly Garden is two-fold. This is because butterfly larva and mature butterflies feed on different things. In order for your Butterfly Garden to be fruitful for your own visual enjoyment and for the garden to be a good habitat for conserving the little flying wonders, both these types of plants will need to be considered. Butterflies are attracted to the most brightly colored flat-topped flowers native to your region! Here in coastal NC, that’s going to be:
- Hummingbird Mint
- Butterfly Bush
- New Jersey Tea
- Common Buttonbush
- Mexican False Heather, Mexican Cigar Plant, waxweed
- Purple Coneflower
- Find a full list: http://www.carolinanature.com/plants4leps.html
2. Nectar needs Sun! Really, who can drink cold nectar! Mid morning to mid afternoon is what apparently all the cool butterflies are doing these days. Much like the Hollywood elite, they only feed in the sun and pretty much enjoy all things warm and glowy! Butterflies can only fly if their body temperature is above 86 degrees. Also, they can only eat everything through the straw that is their mouth. So, if nectar isn’t warm it’s probably like that milkshake you got that one time (or 10 times) that you just ripped the lid off of and ate with a spoon.
3. Don’t stop bloomin’! Most every seasoned gardener already plants for continuous bloom. It stands to reason that if you don’t want the butterflies hanging out with the neighbors it’s really important to make sure you have something blooming in consecutive order. Milkweed is the most preferred host plant for a Butterfly Garden. It’s popular because it’s very readily available and easy to grow. Caterpillars are super picky eaters and many butterfly species do love their milkweed. If you don’t find that you are attracting females to lay the eggs required to propagate new butterflies, then it’s entirely possible to purchase some and watch them hatch. This might be a great project if you have small children. You can learn more about how to hatch butterflies in this article!
4. Everyone likes a nap! A Butterfly Garden will plenty of flat surfaces, rocks or even objects d’art placed in the sun look like heaven to a butterfly. It’s not easy being gorgeous and butterflies are no exception to the “I need my beauty sleep” rule.
5. Say yes to puddles and no to insecticides! See, butterflies are, in fact, insects. Yeah, they’re super pretty and it’s hard to toss them in the bin with creepy crawly critters that make us run for the nearest shoe! Since a butterfly garden is a home to butterflies, which … as we’ve stated, are insects … you can’t use insecticide. Don’t kill your new friends! It’s not nice! Butterflies will thrive with plants that are rich in organic material. Experts recommend adding compost to the soil. American Property Experts recycled mulch is an excellent addition to a Butterfly Garden. APE Mulch high-quality wood mulch made from trees cut down for other purposes. Screened and colored with kid and pet friendly dyes, APE Mulch is organic quality! In addition to your organic ground cover, it’s important that you are very careful with pest control practices. Mulch greatly reduces the need for insecticides and herbicides that will either harm or kill your colorful garden companions.
6. Puddles! Be they in a bird bath or a sandy area with stepping stones, create areas where butterflies can drink and clean their little butterfly legs in water. Well draining areas that collect water for short periods of time work best, you’re not attracting swamp thing. No stagnant water. Think little areas that will pool for a few hours after you’ve watered the garden or even a small fountain.