Butterfly Gardening

April 6, 2014

 Butterfly gardening is a growing school of gardening aimed at creating an environment that attracts butterflies. Butterfly gardening is done to help the butterfly population thrive as many butterfly species are becoming less abundant due to habitat destruction. Since butterflies are flower pollinators attracting them can also help in the pollination of nearby plants.

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There are about 17,500 species of butterflies around the world! You’ll want to learn which butterflies are native to your area, make a list of the different kinds you would like to attract, and then learn which flowers and plants they both feed and lay eggs on.

Next, research what conditions these plants thrive in and visit your local greenhouse to buy your supplies. Some examples of “host plants” are:  milkweed for the Monarch caterpillar, parsley for the Black Swallowtail caterpillar, brassicas attracts the common White Cabbage caterpillar, wild lupine to attract the gorgeous Karner Blue caterpillar, and dill, preferred by the Great Spangled Fritillary larvae.

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Next, you need to choose “nectar plants” for your garden. These nectar plants serve as a food source for the butterflies. Your research will show there are many varieties to choose from. Examples of nectar plants include:  swamp milkweed suitable for Snowberry Clearwing and also serve as host plant for Monarch caterpillars, Joe Pye Weed for the Swallowtail, Zinnia attracts a wide range of butterfly species, and Butterfly Bush is suitable for Swallowtail and Heliotrope and attracts a wide range of butterflies. Creating a “mudhole” is essential to attracting butterflies giving them a source of water and minerals from the mud.

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When you have your host plants and nectar plants in place keep them watered and keep the weeds at bay. Once they’ve grown observe the number of butterflies flocking to your garden and be proud in knowing that you have helped create a habitat for these lovely creatures.

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