Bretta Thibault Gardens May 14th 2020, 00:00:00
Butterfly gardens filled with plants that attract those gorgeous, multi-colored little creatures that float so airily from plant to plant don't have to contain the huge eucalyptus trees so beloved by Monarch butterflies. They can be any size, from a smallish container planting like a window box to a small section of a perennial bed that boasts other plants beloved by butterflies, or even a bit of property you've let go back to the wild.
The trick in designing gardens for butterflies is learning the species that frequent your part of the world and then planting their favorite flowering plants, including plant varieties that supply nectar and those that provide fodder for pre-butterfly caterpillars. If you have a university agricultural extension or USDA office nearby, ask the people there which species are common where you live and what plants they fancy. Otherwise, an Internet search will provide you with similar information.
Beyond that, a good way to go is planting flowers in clustered groups because butterflies prefer patches of flowers to one or two plants with a couple of blossoms each. If you're comfortable allowing dandelions into your yard, you're sure to attract more butterflies than if you rigorously remove every dandelion plant before it has a chance to bloom. (Remember, you can always collect dandelion blossoms and turn them into dandelion wine, which is delicious as well as being fun to make.)
Butterflies will love visiting your garden if you provide them with the right accommodations for their needs. Choose a sunny locale for your butterfly plants, preferably near a wall that provides butterflies a place to warm up in the sun. If a wall isn't possible, use several attractive largish rocks instead. Provide some butterfly shelters as well; a thick shrub or even a small pile of brush where they can be protected from rain and wind is perfect.
Make a goal of choosing a variety of nectar-producing plants that will bloom in mid to late summer when butterflies are most active and don't use chemical pesticides because they can kill butterflies.
Butterfly Bush and Butterfly Weed are two of the most popular choices. Other shrubs that attract butterflies include autumn olive, Buckeye, Buddleia, Buttonbush, Blueberry, Hawthorn, Mock Orange, Pear and Plum trees, Privet, Redbud, Hibiscus, and Spirea.
Annual plants beloved by butterflies include Cosmos, Globe amaranth, Impatiens, Marigold, Mexican Sunflower, Queen Anne's lace, Verbena, and Zinnias.
Perennial butterfly plant choices include Ageratum, Aster, Bee Balm, Black-eyed Susan, Coneflower, Shasta daisy, Daylily, Coreopsis, Hollyhock, Lantana, Lobelia, Passionflower, Phlox, Sage, Verbena, and Yarrow.
In addition to Butterfly Weed, wildflowers that attract butterflies include Ironweed, Milkweed, Spearmint, and Thistles.
Butterflies are lovely to have in your garden if you have children, who take great delight in these tiny and colorful winged beauties. It may be fun to involve your kids in the planning stages of your butterfly garden and then keep a journal of all the different types of butterflies your garden attracts when it starts to bloom.