Attracting butterflies may be rewarding, but you will need to put forth some effort. You can start by going to your local library or read up on several websites to find what you are looking for. There are two things to keep in mind. What butterflies are local to your area? What native or other plants will bring them to your yard? Once you have the answer to this, you will be on your way to not only having a wonderful garden to look at but also butterflies to watch at bay. Butterflies are a joy to watch.
Let’s start with the basics. You need the right kind of plants for larve to feed on, catapillers to feed on, and then for butterflies to collect nector. They also need water, but not too much. Butterflies like to have shelter so that is another issue as well. Then there is the fact that they just love to bask in the sun like a cat does. It may sound funny to you, but when was the last time you saw butterflies while it was raining? I thought not. With that said you will be well on your way to becoming a butterfly expert.
Let’s start with the butterflies,and use my area as an example. In my area, north Texas, I was astonished to find swallowtails of various sizes. Why? Well, I am from Oklahoma and just didn’t see them all that often. Anyway, here you will find swallowtails, monarchs (when in season), Orange Tips, solid whites, solid pea green colored butterflies, etc. It is amazing today all the variety I saw. You may be wondering what is so amazing about seeing swallowtails in this area? They are known to be along the east coast especially the larger variety. The plants they live and feed upon are trees and bushes of a certain variety that won’t grow in this area. That’s why you need to plan it out first.
Plants are going to be tricky. One staple for most butterfly gardens is the milkweed. Yeah, I know, it’s a weed. Did you know that mnay butterflies use this wonderful plant for laying their eggs in the ground near them? They do all summer long. If you pull those up their larve may never grow. Not all butterflies’ larve feed on this particular plant, but one of the most sought after butterflies does. This would be the black and orange monarchs. So if you want to draw many near your place then maybe you should consider a bit of a wild garden area just for our monarch friends.
Another popular and most visited plant for butterflies are the zinnias. There are so many variety of them that you need to be carefull. My mother planted some from a packet that wasn’t descriptive enough and they have crowded out her liatris at a whopping four feet tall. The blooms are huge. Everyday she can watch all sorts of butterflies around them. Then there are shorter zinnias that you can grow in conglomeration with other attracting plants such as marigolds, nasturtium, allysum, verbenia, etc. The butterflies are looking for sweet nector to feed upon.
The butterfly bush, I believe, has been over rated. We have one that grows well, but mostly it draws bees to it. Occassionally I will see a cabbage white, or a black-veined white near them, but then again I don’t have all day to sit and watch them. This is another plant that comes in many colors but it does need good soil to grow in. It is not a hearty plant for the heat.
Water is important for you and me as well as all other plants and animals. Butterflies are no exception. They do their best to take cover from rain as they are not built for such extremeties. I’m sure you might find some that like it, but my okra and yellow squash plants become a haven for them in my vegetable garden. You only need to spray a light coat of water near where they feed for them to drink. There is not any need to drench the ground. If you have lillies, the butterflies will drink the water right out of the flower. You can also strategically place small dishes around your yard for them. Upturned bottlecaps, thimbles, etc.
are unique ways to keep it simple for butterflies to drink from.
Protection is something mentioned earlier. There are some fancy butterfly houses you can either build or buy, or you can take some bark and bridge it over some small rocks. You can provide many ways to protect butterflies, and even the right kind of plants can do this for you.
When one thinks of honeysuckle, you might think of bees and hummingbirds. This is a haven for butterflies. This and wisteria are the two best methods of protecting your fluttery friends. That doesn’t mean you have to go out and buy them because I mentioned them. They are only suggestions. With more education you will find that you are more inventive at creating abodes for the butterflies in your area.
Now that you have some knowledge to start your own butterfly garden you can be well on your way for a visual display of the wonderful flightfull dance of the butterflies in your area.