Sunday, 29 March 2009

Gardening for the Butterflies

A butterfly garden is a designed to attract and encourage butterflies.

Flowers provide food that adult butterflies need in the form of nectar. Host plants provide the food source needed by caterpillars. A rule of thumb is, the greater the variety of flowers and shrubs, the greater the amount of butterflies that will want to visit your garden!

Try creating a habitat that butterflies will be attracted to. Offer some sheltered areas, which will mean that these beautiful winged creatures will expend less energy fighting the wind. Trellises and other garden structures, as well as plants like bushes and trees will make good wind breaks.

Most importantly remember that butterflies are insects, so never use insecticides. These harmful chemicals kill the butterflies. Even products such as Bt, Bacillus thuringiensis, will kill the caterpillar of butterflies. There is much talk that this is what is killing the bee population as well. Don't use them because insecticides never discriminate. Who needs that? Please look for organic ways of handling your insect problems! I'll follow this post up with more info on that. It's better for the planet.

My advice is to provide a diversity of flowers, especially ones that will bloom in succession of each other. This provides a consistant food source for the butterflies and makes good gardening sense, often being the goal of most gardeners that I know! More importantly, however, butterflies will have a variety of sources to choose from.
I prefer to encourage as many native plants as I can in the garden, which I feel is more than likely what the butterflies are seeking in their diet anyhow, since they have evolved through time with them. The butterflies will feel at home in a natural landscape. I must admit though, that annuals provide a good source of nectar to fill in between blooming times of perennial gardens. Besides, who doesn't like to see a window box bursting with annuals? This way, everyone, including the gardener and the butterflies, are happy!

Some flowers that butterflies will appreciate:
Butterfly Bush (Buddleia davidii)
Purple Coneflower (Echinacea purpurea)
Bee Balm (Monarda didyma)
Butterfly Weed/Milkweed (Asclepias tuberosa)
Sweet William (Dianthus barbatus)
Goldenrod (Solidago)
Joe-Pye Weed
Privet (Ligustrum vulgare)
White Clover (Trifolium repens)
Hop Vine (Humulus lupulus)

Happy Gardening : )


thornesworld said...

Great article!

KarenSloan-WallFlowerStudio said...

You are so nice! Thank you : )
And thanks for "dropping" by with the E.C.

Daisy Soap Girl said...

Wonderful article. This is the second year for my Butterfly Bush and it's spectacular. I love your work.