If you want to draw a lot of beautiful butterflies to your yard you have to make it very inviting for them. Just like you want a fluffy bed at the hotel, a good hot breakfast, and other comforts they require some key features to be attacted to your garden spread. Buffet, comfy places to rest, beautiful scenery, etc… All important extras when looking for extended stay flying guests. What can you do?
Here are some tips for a successful butterfly garden:
1.Set up Drinking Stations
Or “Puddlers” as they are called for butterflies. They are not able to land in deep pools of water like ponds, so even if you have a water feature in your yard you will want to be sure and provide a special drinking spot just for them. Bird baths and shallow dishes with water, and several rocks that just break the surface of the water are perfect, add a bit of sand as well to make it natural. This replicates rain puddles that butterflies like to refresh in. The butterflies land on the flat surface and draw in water like a straw. I have several different types around my yard- 2 sizes of bird baths (which the birds still use) and a sealed terra cotta saucer right on the ground that get a lot of traffic.
2. Plant Butterfly Plants
Do a little research, find out what butterflies are most common in your area and load up on the flowers and plants that attract them. Plant a variety to keep them coming and you will have a rainbow of flutters in your yard before you know it. Color and scent are important, but also planting things native to your area will help your garden be much more successful with less effort. Red is the most popular color- Pentas, Salvia, and Firecracker plants are good choices. Milkweed is great for Monarchs!
3. Plant Caterpillar Plants
If you really want a butterfly boom you need to plant host plants for them to lay their eggs on, this is the plant that the caterpillars will eat as they grow and mature before going into their cocoon or chrysalis. Offering plants to the larvae and butterflies will give you a steady stream of enjoyment.
Bushes, trees, and large,full plants offer much needed shelter to butterflies from the elements- rain, sleet, predators, and a short rest from the sun. Make sure your yard has these to offer your winged friends. If you’re doing a container butterfly garden, be sure you include plants of varying sizes!
5. Make Butterfly Nectar
Create a sweet treat for your butterflies by setting out a small shallow dish of sugar water, add small pieces of sponge for them to land on. Don’t place to near your home or porch it may also attract ants, bees, and wasps. You can also purchase a butterfly feeder if you’d like.
6. Provide Food
Just like butterfly nectar, butterflies adore plates of sweet, overripe fruit slices. Set them floating in a small styrofoam plate in a bigger container of water to keep ants away.
7. Avoid Pesticides
Anywhere at all in the yard if you are trying to attract butterflies. They will keep butterflies away and the ones that do brave them may be harmed by the chemicals. Many species are dying in rapid numbers due and need all the help they can get to survive and flourish, check out Monarchwatch.org for some additional info.