You can call it “attracting butterflies to your garden”, but really, what you need to construct is a butterfly habitat. That’s the difference? Lots! Butterflies need a place they can call home, one with pretty flowers to feed upon, water, a place to rest, and above all — a place to raise a family.
Come to the Greenhouse at BackHome-OnTheFarm and talk with us about how to give butterflies a home in your garden. We have lots of expertise, plus plants and supplies to help you make a start!
Where to start?
- Grow lots of nectar plants.
Certain species are attracted to specific plants. Plant in clumps or groups — they’re more attracted to smorgasboards! Try to provide flowers throughout the season, remembering that some species like the Mourning Cloak overwinter and will be out early. Monarchs traditionally head south and are out of our area by mid-September.
- Grow caterpillar plants.
Some butterflies require specific plants on which to lay their eggs — mostly because their caterpillars can only feed on certain plants. Monarchs in particular will only lay their eggs on milkweed, and probably one of the main reasons for their decline is that native milkweed just isn’t readily available. You can blame the use of weedkillers, but remember too that roadsides are usually mowed mid season. If you want butterflies, do a little research about what their caterpillars prefer and you’ll have tons of winged visitors to your garden! One word of caution: Caterpillars feed on these plants … that means they eat them. Be prepared to live with some less than perfect plants in your garden. Remember, you put them there for a purpose.
- Choose a sunny location.
While it’s important for your flowers, it’s also critical for the butterflies. They need the sun to keep their bodies warm enough to fly. The longer the sunny days are, the more they can feed, mate and reproduce. That means more butterflies.
- They need shelter.
Find a gardening space that is sheltered from the wind. This helps in a number of ways. The butterflies (which need warmth to fly) are not cooled by the breezes, and they don’t have to use up so much energy to feed, mate, or lay eggs.
- Provide moisture.
Some butterflies are “puddlers”. They like to drink from the wet edges of mud puddles or wet sandy areas. Fill a shallow bowl with rocks and water, sinking it into the ground or on a very low pedestal.
From Gardner Lynne: I find it helpful to research the butterflies I’d like to attract before I start. Begin with searching for a list of native butterflies and finding out what plants they need. Sources abound for this information, so as a greenhouse person, here’s a list of my favorite plants. They made the list because they are easy to grow, and well … I just like them. You’ll come up with your own list after a season or so.