Butterflies are fast becoming endangered species due to the continued destruction of butterfly habitats. Building houses, roads, and cutting down trees have led to the extinction of most butterfly species.
Not only do butterflies help brighten up your garden and give you children something to play with, but they also pollinate flowers. Without butterflies and bees, a lot of plants will not be able to blossom; that is why butterflies cannot be left to go extinct.
What is a Butterfly Garden
A butterfly garden is a planting area where butterflies not only come to feed but also live their whole lives. The different life stages of the butterfly insect need to be taken care of in your garden for it to be a proper butterfly garden.
These different stages feed on various plants, and these plants need to be available all year round to help the butterflies. With butterfly gardening, size does not matter. You can start with a single garden pot, a plot of land, or an acre. You can even make use of your window area as your garden. So even though you live in an apartment with little or no yard space, you can still grow a butterfly garden.
Things to Consider
Even though growing a butterfly garden is quite easy, you still need adequate knowledge about butterflies and your garden.
- Know your Butterfly Species: The first thing to do when growing a butterfly garden is to know the different butterfly species and which ones are peculiar to your area. This is an essential factor as it determines what type of host and nectar flowers to grow.
- Sunlight: Butterflies need sunlight to create body heat as they are cold-blooded. You need an area that gets at least 5 hours of sunlight daily. A nice little trick is to add large rocks to your garden to serve as landing spots for the butterflies as the stones can get hot quickly.
- Water: Even though butterflies get the necessary water from nectars and saps from trees, they also need wet environments like puddles. To create a mud puddle, simply fill a small dish with sand and add water enough to be damp but not running.
- Shelter: Having trees near your garden area is beneficial as they serve as a roosting place for the butterflies at night and also protects the butterflies from strong winds and predators.
- Overwintering habitat: During the winter, butterflies need a place to hideout. It doesn’t matter the stage of the butterfly; having a location where they can Ride out the winter period is beneficial. Consider leaving leaves lying around in the garden to create places the butterfly can hide under against the harsh weather.
- Host plants: These are plants butterflies lay their eggs on during reproduction. Host plants also double as food for the caterpillar. You cannot make a butterfly garden without having host plants where butterflies can lay their eggs, and the caterpillar can feed on during their early life circle. Some host plants you can have in your garden include spicebush, green ash, sunflower, broccoli, cabbage, hackberry, willow, and many others.
- Nectar plants: These are plants that contain nectar which butterflies feed on and pollinate in the process. Having a garden full of nectar plants will attract butterflies to your garden. Some nectar-producing plants include butterfly bush, butterfly weed, common milkweed, purple coneflowers, New England aster, and a host of others.
Steps to Make a Butterfly Garden
As we’ve shown you the concept of a butterfly garden, it is time to show you how to make your own in your yard. Here are steps you can implement in your yard to convert that bare garden into a butterfly home.
Step 1. Prepare the land
Growing a butterfly garden is just like raising a regular garden. You need to clear, till and get the land ready for planting. Butterfly plants need an adequately drained soil to grow alongside a generous amount of compost and mild fertilizer where needed. Depending on the size of your garden, you can handle the land preparation yourself with the help of garden equipment like rakes and shovels. If you are growing a window or pot garden, you should fill up the planting pots with fertile soil.
Step 2. Plant the right seed
Among the things to consider before growing a butterfly garden is the species of butterflies in your area. Different butterfly species lay their eggs and feed on equally different plants. Knowing the species common to your area will help you plant the right flower seed that’ll attract those species to your garden.
Step 3. Plant in clusters
Butterflies need to be able to see your flowers from afar. That is why it is crucial you grow the flowers in clusters, which will make it more attractive to the butterflies. Planting in groups also makes your garden colorful and elegant.
Step 4. Mix perennial and different blooming season plants.
You do not want to have only summer blooming plants in your garden. Mixing plants that flower in different seasons, so there is an all-year-round supply of nectar for the butterfly. Plants that bloom during the spring to go with summer flowering plants.
Step 5. Grow them at different levels
Growing your flowers in levels will help the visibility of the flowers to the butterflies and also make the place more beautiful. From garden beds, keeping some of them on tabletops, and hanging them over your patio area.
Step 6. Avoid pesticides and insecticides
Using pesticides and insecticides in your butterfly garden will have a negative effect as it will kill the butterflies you’re trying to attract. In place of these harmful chemicals, the use of harmless snakes and animals to eat up the unwanted insects.
Butterflies are essential insects in our ecosystem, and if their extinction is not stopped, pollination of certain plants will be almost impossible. Growing a butterfly garden will help prevent that while also creating a colorful garden in your home. Even more enticing as you now have a place to sit and butterfly-gaze right in your home. Encourage your kids to join in growing the butterfly garden as they’ll love the butterflies that it’ll attract.