A butterfly garden has several benefits. It attracts butterflies with its colorful blooms and nectar-filled flowers. Many species also require host plants that provide nectar, food for the caterpillars and a structure for the butterfly’s chrysalis. Butterfly weed, asclepias, various asters and sedums are great plants to include in your butterfly garden. Creating your own butterfly garden is a rewarding project that provides a host of benefits for butterflies and people alike.
Choosing a butterfly-friendly host plant is the first step to attract butterflies. These plants are easy to grow and require very little maintenance. It is important to choose a mixture of host and nectar plants so that you can attract as many butterflies as possible. A wide variety of plants, both native and cultivated, is ideal for attracting butterflies of all ages. Keep in mind that some plants are host plants while others are food plants. Some host plants are a good choice, while others can be detrimental to the environment.
Butterflies begin life as eggs laid on a plant leaf. Some butterflies lay their eggs only on specific plants. Once the eggs hatch, the caterpillars will start munching on the host plant. Any that aren’t eaten will spin a protective casing called a chrysalis and wait for a few weeks. After two weeks, they emerge as adult butterflies. The butterflies will spread their wings and begin to look for food. You can also sign up for email updates from the SCA about conservation projects and news.
As butterflies are cold-blooded insects, a butterfly garden needs six hours of sunshine daily. The best time to place your garden is in a location that receives the early morning sunlight. Exposed soil absorbs heat, while plants in drifts will help butterflies spot larger patches of color. You should also be sure not to use chemical pesticides or fertilizers, as these can harm butterflies. If you are planting flowers for butterflies, consider providing nectar-rich plants for other creatures.
While butterflies get water from tree sap, nectar, and dew, they also need a source of moisture. To help your butterflies stay healthy and attract butterflies, create a butterfly puddling station in your garden. Simply fill a shallow dish with sand or gravel and place it in a sunny location in your garden. Add some salt to the mix, or you can purchase a puddle stone. Once your butterfly garden is established, you can begin adding nectar-rich plants.
In addition to a butterfly-friendly garden, it is also a great place for wildlife. Many butterflies spend their entire life in the shade of a tree. Sunlight allows them to warm up and live comfortably. You can also add a pond or a stream to your garden to attract other wildlife. If you have space, you can install a butterfly house. Depending on the species, you will be rewarded with beautiful butterflies.