Butterfly Garden

"Butterflies are self propelled flowers."
~R.H. Heinlein

Tips For Attracting Butterflies To Your Garden

A successful butterfly garden is one that contains all components that butterflies need for food, light, shelter, and breeding. Although you don’t have to have a huge garden to catch the attention of passing butterflies, if you provide a hospitable environment you’ll increase your chances greatly. It should be stable and predictable, so that over time, the needs of the butterflies are met consistently.  A natural setting for butterflies is both attractive and essential to their well-being. Understanding the nature of butterflies and having the knowledge of their life stages will help you plan your garden.


Butterfly Garden
Butterfly on Butterfly Weed

Both Nectar And Larval Plants Should Be Supplied For Food

Nectar plants will support the adult butterfly. A variety of flowering shrubs, perennials, annuals and herbs will ensure plenty of blooms to last throughout the season. The larval plants will sustain the actively growing caterpillars. Caterpillars need to munch on the foliage, so expect to see a few ”tattered” leaves. Many caterpillars have specific tastes, so those plants that suit their fancy can be tucked away in the back corner of the garden, where they may not be as noticeable. Don’t worry about being overrun with caterpillars. Although an adult butterfly may lay hundreds of eggs, only a few usually survive to adulthood. By offering food for both stages of the butterfly’s life, you’ll have a better chance of keeping them around. As a rule, pesticides and herbicides should never be used in or near a butterfly garden.

Ensure That Your Garden Gets Plenty Of Sunshine

Butterflies are cold blooded, and usually do not fly until the temperature is at least 60 degrees. You’ll want to ensure that your garden gets plenty of sunshine, as butterflies only fly well when their wings are warm and dry. Although butterflies will rest and hibernate in wooded areas (in suburbia this would include the undersides of well-camouflaged shrubs), include a flat rocky area in the sun, which will make a good resting spot where they can prepare for a day of flight and feeding.

Swallowtail Caterpillars
Monarch Butterfly
Monarch Chrysalis

Incorporate Plants For Resting

Butterflies need a place to rest and hibernate. Trees and shrubs will provide necessary shelter from predators and give your butterflies a place to rest on a busy day of flying in the sweltering sun. Butterflies will also roost during cold, cloudy, or rainy weather. If your garden happens to be in a fairly windy spot, dense shrubs also offer windbreak protection. The wind can wreak havoc on the delicate wings of the butterfly.

Enjoy Your Butterfly Oasis

Butterfly gardens are a great enjoyment, whether it is by snapping beautiful photos, or sharing your gardens with friends and family. You are also doing your part in conserving the environment. Butterflies are important plant pollinators and establishing or maintaining their habitat preserves a piece of the ecological system. Remember that your butterfly garden can be as small as a window box, or as large as a field of wildflowers. Establishing a large butterfly area may take more than one season. Be patient! You will be rewarded for your efforts!

I’ve watched you now a full half-hour;
Self-poised upon that yellow flower
And, little Butterfly! Indeed
I know not if you sleep or feed.
How motionless! – not frozen seas
More motionless! and then
What joy awaits you, when the breeze
Hath found you out among the trees,
And calls you forth again!

~William Wordsworth, “To a Butterfly”

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