Butterflies are insects that are known to have brightly colored, patterned wings and graceful, fluttering flying. They are active in warm weather and are usually a sign that Spring has arrived. They are most active in summer and early fall.
Many people have memories of trying to catch butterflies as children.
Kids and adults alike are amazed at how caterpillars can enter a cocoon and come out as a beautiful butterfly.
Watching butterflies can be relaxing and peaceful.
There are over 20,000 different butterfly species with over 700 different kinds flying around North America. Monarchs are the most recognizable with their black, yellow and white patterned wings.
However, many butterfly species are endangered due to their natural habitats (gardens) being destroyed for concrete buildings.
You can help butterflies survive by planting specific plants and flowers in your garden.
The butterfly gardens are a safe haven for butterflies to find food and rest. Unlike bees, butterflies prefer to land on the flowers instead of hover above.
If you stand still and smell sweet, a butterfly could even land on you!
A butterfly garden doesn’t have to be extensive. You can attract butterflies to your windowsill with a single flower pot or window box, as long as the flowers are rich in nectar, the food source of butterflies.
Read on to find out if building a butterfly garden in your backyard is something you are considering.
What is a Butterfly Garden?
Butterfly gardens are gardens with specific flowers and plants that are meant to attract butterflies. Many people find the gardens to be relaxing, as the butterflies flit and flutter about. The garden can be made up of trees, shrubs, flowers and vines, as long as they are rich in nectar.
If you’re looking to create a space where butterflies can live and reproduce, you’ll need to make a more detailed plan than just nectar-rich flowers. Butterflies don’t need much, but they do need direct sunlight, water and places to land.
Keep in mind that butterflies are insects and harmful pesticides on your plants can be fatal to the butterfly.
4 Butterfly Garden Benefits
Butterflies have symbiotic relationships with plants.
While eating the plant’s nectar, some butterflies pollinate the plants. This encourages plant health and growth, while keeping butterflies happy and well-fed.
Caterpillars do eat the host plants, which can be damaging to the plant. But once the caterpillar reaches adulthood, usually within a month’s time, the benefits of butterflies outweigh any small damage caterpillars might cause.
Fragrant flowers attract butterflies with the smell of nectar, the main source of food for butterflies. Flowers that produce nectar are necessary for a butterfly garden. Butterflies pollinate the various flowers as they fly from one flower to another. Many plants need pollination to reproduce.
Butterflies greatly prefer native plants for food. Native plants are plants that pre-exist in the garden and grow naturally. They are a great benefit to the environment because they won’t need as many resources to grow and thrive. They have already adapted to environmental factors such as the climate.
3. Promotes Wildlife Habitats
Butterfly gardens aren’t used by just butterflies. Other essential garden species, such as ladybugs and spiders, can happily reside in the same garden as butterflies. Ladybugs feed on other insects that damage plants. You may not think of spiders as a good thing, but they are also natural predators of harmful garden pests.
Butterflies can be food sources for birds and lizards. While you’re trying to protect the butterflies, there is a certain hierarchy in nature. As beautiful and peaceful butterflies are, they have other purposes in the natural order of things. So, keeping a butterfly garden encourages the habitat of other wildlife besides butterflies.
4. Helps Relaxation
Butterfly gardens don’t require a lot of time-consuming maintenance. This allows you to enjoy the colorful flowers and butterflies. Many people find the flight of butterflies to be relaxing. Anything that encourages calm and quiet is good for the internal and external environment.
Flowers and plants are essential to the production of oxygen. That makes butterfly gardens a great help to humans and animals alike. And they are gorgeous to look at.
6 Ways to Attract Butterflies
Butterflies are attracted to bright flowers that smell of sweet nectar. However, that might attract them to your garden, but what is going to keep them coming back?
Butterflies need some type of shelter to go into during bad weather or to escape predators. It doesn’t have to be a complex shelter. A pile of rocks or wood can be effective for shelter. Nearby trees can also be places to escape.
When spring clean-up arrives, don’t clean the ground too much. Fallen leaves on the ground allow caterpillars to crawl underneath for protection. By removing all leaves from the ground, you are getting rid of next year’s helpful garden insects such as moths and caterpillars.
Store-bought pesticides are full of harmful chemicals that are intended to kill insects. Butterflies can be harmed or killed after coming in contact with certain pesticides. There are natural pest controls available for purchase or made at home that doesn’t kill beneficial insects.
3. Native Plants
Native plants – plants indigenous to the area – are great for the environment and for attracting butterflies. When you choose plants that are already acclimated to the weather, it is easier for the flowers to flourish. Native plants are better for the environment because they encourage other local flora to continue to grow.
Butterflies are cold-blooded insects. They need sun to survive, even in warm months. Butterflies generally only feed when the sun is out completely, though they can fly during cloudy days, too.
You can put rocks in your garden that will give the butterflies a warm place to rest. If you’re doing a smaller garden, just make sure it is in direct sunlight for most of the daytime hours.
As much as butterflies love the sun, they also love water. They can often be spotted in mud or puddles where they drink water. If you live in a dry climate, you might want to fill shallow dishes with water and leave them in sunny areas around your yard. This gives butterflies a reason to come back to your garden.
If most people had to name their favorite butterfly, they would say the Monarch. To attract the Monarch to your yard, you need to have milkweed, as that is the only plant Monarch butterflies feed from. However, it has to be just the right type of milkweed.
The correct type of milkweed that Monarchs like varies from state to state. Check out this guide to find which is right for your state.
What Flowers and Plants are Best for a Butterfly Garden?
When it comes to choosing plants and flowers for butterflies, choose nectar plants for adult butterflies and caterpillar food plants for caterpillars. This ensures that the adult butterflies with lay eggs in your garden and hopefully stay for their full life cycle.
Choosing plants for your butterfly garden greatly depends on your location and the climate. When possible, it’s best to keep the native plants and flowers that have already grown in the area.
Here are a few other flowers and plants that butterflies love:
- Elm trees
- Wild Black Cherry
- Tulip trees
DIY Butterfly Gardens
While butterflies do like bright colors, whether they frequent your garden or not will have less to do with colors and more to do with what types of plants and flowers you’ve planted. That means you can choose the colors that you like the best. Once you’ve decided on a color scheme, you can move on to more important decisions such as shelter, water and fauna.
The flowers you choose should be ones that are full of different types of nectar. The more variety you have in plants, the more butterfly species you’ll have in your garden.
Plant diversity is paramount to attracting and keeping the interest of the butterflies. A bright flower might draw their attention at first, but it’s the other things they find in your garden that makes them come back. Water, shelter and sun exposure are important when considering where to place your garden.
Shrubs, trees and vines of varying heights are attractive to butterflies, especially if the plants bloom at different times. Plant one of each type of plant together so the butterflies can get more nectar without flying long distances. This will also help give your garden a uniform look for your viewing pleasure.
Shrubs and trees not only provide the humans with shade, they also offer butterflies a place to hide out during windy and rainy weather or to sleep at night. Caterpillars also feed on shrubs and trees, which will give you more butterflies that next year. Caterpillars do cause slight damage to the plants, but it’s a necessary compromise for beautiful butterflies.
5 Quick and Easy Steps to Creating a Butterfly Garden:
Find Sunny Location Near Shrubs and Trees
Plant nectar-rich fauna
Use Rocks to Create a Sunning Areas
Fill Shallow Pans with Water
Watch Butterflies Flock to Garden