7 Steps to Easily Create a Butterfly Garden
A butterfly garden is an area in which butterflies feed and thrive. Here, you’ll grow plants that attract both butterflies and moths and encourage pollination. As butterflies are most active from spring to late summer, you’ll want to have your garden ready by then. This blog will tell you everything you need to know about preparing your butterfly garden. Let’s get started.
- Choose the right location
Selecting the right location for your butterfly garden can make all the difference. You’ll want a spot that gets adequate sunlight for flowers to grow, which will attract butterflies. Butterflies are cold-blooded and need the light from the sun to warm their muscles so they're able to fly from flower to flower and produce eggs. Typically the magic number of hours of sunlight is 6 hours. You could grow a butterfly garden in partial sun or semi-shade for waystation purposes, as well, but it will be much tougher to get those areas established.
- Select the best type of plants
You’ll want two types of plants in your butterfly garden: nectar plants and host plants. Adult butterflies drink nectar, so this is a source of nutrients for them in addition to attracting them to the garden. As a bonus, you'll want to plant native plants to your area to maximize the blooms and health of your plant, which will maximize the amount of nectar they produce.
On the other hand, host plants provide a spot for butterflies to lay eggs a well as food sources for caterpillars once the larvae hatch. Monarch butterflies, specifically, need milkweed plants. There are no other host plants for Monarchs other than milkweed.
Planting both of these plants in your garden can help you attract and maintain your butterflies properly.
- Make your own bait
You can also create baits to draw butterflies to your garden. Sugar and yeast-based baits will provide food and essential nutrients to butterflies. You can make your own by using rotting fruit (bananas, peaches, plums, apples), white, sugar, molasses, and beer. The best place to put your bait is on flat rocks, tree stumps, or a dish.
These baits are that they may attract flies, mosquitoes or animals so make sure to keep that in mind.
- Add a water source
Butterflies need water to stay hydrated. Create a puddling station from a shallow dish and soil, sand, or pebbles to provide essential vitamins and nutrients like sodium from muddy water. The water source should be placed near the bait stations and nectar sources.
- Build a shelter
Butterflies need protection from predators and harsh weather conditions. Add
trees, shrubs, and a butterfly house to your garden to fit all of their needs. Native and ornamental grasses also provide excellent protection, shade, a resting place, and a spot to hibernate and cocoon.
- Steer clear of pesticides
While well-intentioned, many butterfly gardeners end up killing their butterflies with chemical-based pesticides (even organic ones!). If you’re looking to control pests in your garden, read up on companion planting. This can help keep any issues at bay.
It's important to understand, as well, that some pests are naturally-occurring and are important parts of the environment in your area. Here's more information on how to control pests if you're interested!
- Track your progress
How do you know if your butterfly garden is successful? Through progress tracking! Make note of how your butterflies are doing and when/where they most appear. Is there a pest that is interfering with their well-being? Is there something else you could change or improve? Paying attention to these details can help ensure a thriving butterfly garden.
Final ThoughtsThere you have it! Before you know it, you’ll have a thriving butterfly garden. Just be sure to monitor your garden for progress or issues that arise. You can check out our article on Top Vegetable and Perennial Companion Plants for more information about what to plant in your butterfly garden.