A Guide to Butterfly Gardens
Butterfly gardens are a gorgeous way to enjoy the local butterfly population and help the environment at the same time. These gardens full of beautiful, fragrant blooms are a safe haven and help butterflies pollinate other native plants in the area. Butterfly gardens instantly bring color and liveliness into a backyard and have even been shown to have a tranquil effect on gardeners. To bring these benefits to any home, learn more about planning, growing, and maintaining a butterfly garden.
Butterfly gardens are not only relaxing to look at but also extremely beneficial to the environment. Butterflies are attracted to vibrant, colorful, fragrant flowers. As they go from flower to flower feeding on nectar, they spread pollen, which helps plants to reproduce. There are even certain flowers that depend exclusively on butterflies for pollination! Butterflies also attract other local insects that are important to the garden, like ladybugs and spiders, which in turn attract lizards, birds, and other animals that keep garden pests at bay. A thoughtfully designed, successful butterfly garden becomes a small oasis for the local insect and wildlife population.
Butterflies only lay their eggs on certain plants, so it's important to choose several of those varieties when planning a garden. For example, the monarch butterfly can only lay eggs on the milkweed plant, so this is an excellent selection. It's also vital to only choose native flowering plants to go in your garden. Native plants are adapted to survive in your particular region and are perfect for the local wildlife and insect population. You don't need to attract tropical butterflies like those at the butterfly museum in Houston florist professionals visit, just local or migrating butterflies that visit native plants.
Some of the most popular flowers for butterfly gardens include phlox, which produces clusters of fragrant flowers throughout the summer and fall. Butterfly weed is a great choice because in addition to being a nectar source, it is a host for caterpillars. Goldenrod is a summer/fall bloomer that attracts American small coppers, checkered skippers, giant swallowtails, monarchs, and many more. Purple coneflower is a low-maintenance plant that produces big, colorful blooms perfect for larger butterflies. Bee balm is another easy-to-grow plant that attracts bees and butterflies to your garden: Its spiky red, pink, or purple blossoms will add interest and texture to you garden. Black-eyed Susan is another showy perennial that provides an excellent source of nectar for many types of butterflies.
Once you have chosen the best flowers for your region, it's time to choose a location. Choose an area that is protected from wind but gets at least six hours of sun (or the maximum required by your flowers). Shrubs should also be included in the garden plan because they provide areas for roosting at night. Butterflies will also benefit from the addition of a few tree trunks or flat stepping stones: These are a great place for butterflies to rest on cool mornings. Lastly, you will need to add a water source. Butterflies only drink from puddles, so a small, shallow container filled with wet sand is ideal.
Maintaining your garden is just as important as choosing the right variety of plants. Pesticides should never be used on a butterfly garden. Instead, take preventative action and use organic pest control products if needed. Deadheading spent flowers is very important, but perennials should never be cut back in the fall because egg masses or hibernating butterflies could be damaged. Keep water sources filled and stepping stones, logs, and other resting places clear of debris. Weed control is very important in a butterfly garden, and a thick layer of mulch provides an easy barrier. With proper care, your garden will flourish and be enjoyable for years to come.
Check out these links for more information about designing, planting, and growing a successful butterfly garden:
- Recommended Plant Species by State
- How to Make Butterfly Gardens
- Orchid Flowers
- Butterfly Gardens Fact Sheet
- The University of Florida: Best Butterfly Plants
- A Dozen Design Tips for Butterfly Gardens
- Gardening for Butterflies
- Florist in Raleigh, NC
- Creating a Butterfly Garden (PDF)
- Everything You Need to Know About Butterfly Gardens (PDF)
- Fluttering Through Gardening: Creating a Butterfly Habitat (PDF)
- Butterfly Gardening Tips
- Butterfly Gardens: Flying Flowers in Your Garden
- Better Homes and Gardens: Plant a Butterfly Garden
- How to Create a Butterfly and Hummingbird Garden
- How to Start a Butterfly Garden
Written by Ava Rose