Building a Butterfly Garden Part II

There are two types if plants that attract butterflies. They are 1) a nectar source for the butterfly, and 2) a food source for the larvae to feed on. The more you have of each, the better your chances are of attracting a wide variety of butterflies to your garden. You should also include a variety butterfly6[1].jpgof plants that have different bloom periods to extend the season of bloom. Butterflies in general like plants that have large or flat flower clusters. Remember not to use insecticides on your garden! (For obvious reasons) Photo at left: Monarch an a Yarrow plant

Tip: Try keeping a butterfly journal. Keep a record of what kinds of butterflies visit your garden, and their favorite plants. Which flowers attract the most variety of butterflies? What time of day do most of them come to your garden? This would make a great 4 H project!


Shrubs Viburnum, Chokeberry, Lilac, Spirea, Butterfly bush, Spirea, Mock orange, Red leafed cherry, Potentilla (yellow), Weigela

Annuals Ageratum, Nasturtium, Salvia, Petunia, Snapdragon, Alyssum.

Perennials (some of my favorites, there are more): Columbine (below right), Black-eyed Susan, Purple Coneflower, Liatris, Joe-Pye weed, Milkweed (below left), Sedum (tall varieties), Shasta daisy, Yarrow, Fall-blooming butterfly1[1].jpgAster, Butterfly weed, Daylily, Scabiosa.

Click here to view part I of this post


Building a Butterfly Garden

Building a Butterfly Garden: First Things First!

Along with the increased interest in the use of native plants for landscaping, butterfly watching has come right alongside it and has become a popular pastime. By choosing the right plants, anyone can create a butterfly garden, whether it be in a space as small as an apartment window box or a large garden that will attract a wide variety of butterflies. (Among other friendly creatures!)

Before planting the garden it is best to educate yourself about the life cycle of the butterfly, the conditions it likes best, the food that it likes and the best location for your garden.

Life cycle Butterflies go through 3 life stages (egg, caterpillar, and cocoon) before they reach the 4th, or adult stage. monarc1[1].jpg Eggs are usually laid on the host ( food source) plant and will hatch in as little as a few days or as long as 2-3 weeks. The larvae (see Monarch larvae at left) hatches out of the egg and begins to feed on the host plant. The larvae (caterpillar) will continue to feed on the host plant, shedding its skin as it grows to full size. When full size is reached, it begins to pupate, or form a cocoon. It may hang by what appears to be a small thread, or it can attach itself to a small branch or leaf.monarch_pupa[1].jpg

Location It is best to select a sunny location with well drained soil that will support a variety of plants. It also gives an opportunity for the butterflies to sun themselves. Try to keep it out of the wind. Find some large stones or a flat-shaped fieldstone boulder (you may need help getting it there!) that will provide a good basking spot, and will also hold heat when it starts to cool down later in the day. If you can, provide a water source for them. Something as simple as moist earth or a mud puddle works great. You can buy a piece of drip irrigation line and attach it to your hose to keep the ground moist with a slow dripping action.


Look for our next post to see a list of the plants you can use to create a your own butterfly garden!