Butterfly Gardening

Butterfly Gardening

This is peak season for butterflies and now is a perfect time to set up a butterfly garden or add to an existing one.

When setting up a butterfly garden you should endeavor to have an assortment of plants and always include both Host plants and Nectar plants. Host plants (such as Milkweed) are where the eggs are laid and when the larvae/caterpillars hatch they feed on the host plant. Nectar plants are plants that adult butterflies feed from. Flowers that have good “landing pads” are a good choice for this such as Zinnia’s or Gaillardia.

When choosing a site to establish a butterfly garden, there are some principles to follow:

• Choose a sunny site
• Preferably viewable from your house to enjoy
• Access to irrigation or water spigot
• Make it 10×10 feet or larger

Butterflies can drink freestanding water however your average bird bath or pond is not adequate for butterflies. Create a “reservoir” with a large saucer or very shallow container and add sand, compost and pebbles or rocks on top. Add water but not so that it is covering the rocks.

For maintenance of butterfly gardens, irrigate responsibly; fertilize responsibly; mulch with 2”-3” Pine bark; maintain but not too neatly- butterfly gardens should be free flowing; add new plants as needed and NEVER use pesticides.

Some choices for butterfly garden plants are:

Larval: milkweed, passion flower, wild petunia, dill, fennel

Nectar plants: Butterfly bush, zinnia, gaillardia, coreopsis, marigold, lantana, porterweed, jatropha, salvia and firebush.

This is by no means a comprehensive list but a good starting point for a starting a garden or adding to an existing one.

Butterflies are self-propelled flowers.

-R.H. Heinlein