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Butterfly Garden Basics

Butterflies are beautiful and interesting creatures. Unlike Bumble Bees and Mosquitoes butterflies are one insect many homeowners do not mind sharing their yard with. A butterfly garden is a type of garden that contains plants which are good for all stages of a butterfly’s life.

Butterfly Garden Basics

  • Nectar Sources: Plants to attract and nourish adult butterflies.
  • Host Plants: Plants that will serve as a food source for developing larva.
  • Shelter: Vegetation to provide protection from temperature extremes, storms and predators. These plants will also provide the butterflies with areas to sleep.
  • Water Source: A water source with a fountain is the best choice for a butterfly garden. Butterflies require water for drinking and thermoregulation.

Your butterfly garden can range from any size you desire as long as you cover the butterfly garden basics above.

Butterfly Garden Design

  • Provide a variety of nectar and host plant sources, this will ensure a variety of butterfly species. Offering a variety also encourages butterflies to remain in your yard instead of simply passing through.
  • Incorporate plants of varying heights and widths. The variety in shape and sizes will help to create micro-climates that will appeal to a diversity of butterfly species.
  • Make things colorful, different butterflies are attracted to different colors.
  • Offer a variety of flower shapes. Different butterflies require different shaped flowers to feed on. While smaller species have no difficulties feeding on a platform (Daisy) type flower,  some will require tube shaped flowers to easy access to nectar.
  • Incorporate native plants into your existing landscape if possible. Most host plants are natives and will produce a small extension to the butterfly garden itself.
  • Provide consistent host plants throughout the growing season. Choosing plants that bloom different times throughout the year will ensure your garden remains attractive and productive for as long as possible.
  • Plant in both shade and sun, this too will ensure a variety of species. Many forest species prefer shaded areas.
  • Plant in groupings which are aesthetically pleasing and provide larger masses of color. Groupings will be more apparent in landscape and will allow larvae to locate additional food sources if needed.

Butterfly Garden Maintenance

Mulching should be done upon installation to give your plants a great start.  Maintenance should be kept up upon just like any garden.  Water, Pruning, Weeding and fertilization should be done regularly as needed. Butterflies are sensitive to pesticides, organic materials and methods should be used when you can. If you need a pesticide for any reason minimal use is suggested.

Different areas have different butterfly species. To find out what plants will be best for your garden we recommend researching butterflies in your area.  The plants you need will be natives and will be readily available to you, this will also ensure maximum butterfly viewing in your yard.

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