A great project to do on your own or to keep the kids busy during the summer, creating a butterfly garden is exciting, rewarding and pretty simple! The most successful butterfly gardens include plants which meet the needs of butterflies during the four stages of their life cycle: egg, caterpillar, chrysalis and adult.
Here are our recommended steps in creating a butterfly garden:
- Locate a sunny area in your garden. Butterflies, and a majority of the plants they need, require bright sunshine.
- Plant nectar producing flowers. Butterflies visit flowers in their search for nectar (a sugary fluid) to eat. Many native butterflies seem to prefer purple, yellow, orange and red colored blossoms.
- Select single flowers. The nectar inside a single flower is much more accessible to butterflies. They do not need to “wade through” a mass of petals.
- Use large splashes of color. Butterflies are first attracted to flowers by their color. Masses of flowers are more easily located than single plants.
- Plan for all season bloom. Butterflies are active from early spring through late fall. Plant a selection of plants which will provide nectar throughout the growing season.
- Include puddling areas. Some butterflies drink and extract salts from moist soil. Create shallow puddles or damp areas in your garden. Occasionally, large numbers of male butterflies congregate around moist areas forming a “puddle club.”
- Place flat stones in your garden. Butterflies often perch on stones, bare soil, or vegetation, spreading their wings to bask in the sun. This raises their body temperature so they are able to fly and remain active.
- Do not use pesticides in or near your butterfly garden. Most are toxic to them.