Butterfly gardens are a beautiful way to attract butterflies to your yard in the warmer months. You can add a butterfly garden to your yard or attract butterflies to your deck or patio by planting container gardens. Butterfly gardens will also attract birds as well as some other wildlife.
Basically, what you need for a butterfly garden is the same in any of the country’s planting zones.
Butterfly gardens need the basics of full sun, a pesticide-free environment, nectar source plans, larval host plants and a good knowledge of butterfly fauna.
Butterfly gardens need full sun. The plants need the sun in order to produce the nectar that feeds the butterflies. The butterflies also need the sun.
Nectar-producing plants will attract butterflies and most are native, which means they don’t require as much attention. Flowers with strong scents will attract butterflies as well as those with bright colors. Butterflies actually have a better sight perception of colors than humans.
But it’s not just the nectar-producing plants. Butterfly gardens also need to include host plants to serve as a food source. This gives the butterflies a place to lay their eggs. Shrubs and tall grasses give the butterflies a place to roost and take shelter from the elements. Dogwoods and redbud are good choices for butterfly gardens.
Don’t panic when you see the chewed leaves. It will be worth it when you see the butterflies begin to emerge.
Instead of pesticides that will defeat the purpose of planting a butterfly garden, plant things like marigolds, petunia and herbs such as mint or lemon grass that will naturally repel the insect pest but won’t deter butterflies.
Butterflies lay their eggs in the late spring. These hatch within some 3 to 6 days. The caterpillar stage takes about 3 to 4 weeks, and butterflies will emerge in 9 to 14 days.
Consider these plants when you’re planting your butterfly garden.
The bright clusters of pink, red, white or lavender blooms of Phlox attract butterflies because of the color as well as the lovely fragrance from the blooms. Phlox will generally grow to about four feet tall and a foot wide. It is hardy in zones 4-8.
Aster is great for your fall garden adding beautiful shades of red, pink, while, purple and blue. Aster produces plenty of blooms and is hardy in zones 3-8.
It seems logical that a butterfly garden should include a butterfly bush. With shades of white, purple or blue this is an easy to care for shrub with fragrant flowers. Depending on the type this grows well in zones 5-9.
Butterfly weed will attract the beautiful Monarch butterflies. The adults love the orange flowers and the caterpillars love the leaves. These grow to three feet tall and a foot wide and are hardy in zones 4-9.
Anise Hyssop is not only drought tolerant; it isn’t attractive to rabbits and deer. But it’s a butterfly favorite. The blooms also are beautiful as a cut flower. Anise hyssop is hardy in zones 4-10.
Purple coneflower blooms all year long and is great as a cut flower. Butterflies love this drought tolerant plant. It grows to five feet tall and two feet wide and does well in zones 3-9.
Other plants to consider for your butterfly garden include the salvia which comes in a variety of sizes and colors. Lantana blooms all summer long and gives beautiful shades of yellow, cream, white, pink, red, orange and lavender.
The star-shaped blooms of pentas come in white, pink and red. Pentas will also attract humming birds.
Zinnia is a garden favorite and comes in many variations of color. Zinnia blooms all summer long.
Plant Black-eyed Susan alongside purple coneflower for a dramatic look. Black-eye Susan blooms in late summer and is a perfect attraction for butterflies.
The best time to plant butterfly gardens is in the spring or fall. Add younger plants in the spring and in the fall plant more mature plants that will become dormant before the frost sets in. You won’t get the best results by planting in the hot summer or cold winter. Butterflies will start to emerge when the temperature hits 60 degrees F and will remain until late fall.
You can always pick flowers for yourself, why should only the butterflies enjoy your garden, or you can visit your local florist if you don’t have the heart to raid your own garden.
Plants you want to consider adding to your butterfly garden include perennial plants such as asters, lilac or coneflowers. Mint is also a good nectar source for butterflies. Brightly colored annual flowers will attract butterflies to your garden.
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