5 Ways to Make Your Garden More Butterfly-Friendly
It’s fun to see a butterfly passing through your garden – but more fun when they stay for a while. If you want your yard to be a popular hangout, you can take a number of easy steps to make it more welcoming.
1. Grow Their Favorite Flowers
Butterflies may look like they’re flying around randomly, but they’re actually on a mission to find their next meal. Adults live on flower nectar and need to eat constantly. Growing many different types of flowers will ensure your garden always has something in bloom. Keep in mind that butterflies like to dine in the sun and they prefer flowers with a flat top (such as zinnias or coneflowers) or flowers that grow in clusters (like lilacs or phlox). Click here for a list of some favorites.
2. Plant in Groups
Butterflies are nearsighted, so it is easier for them to see a big lilac bush or a large group of garden phlox than it is to zero in on a single plant. They can also smell much better than they can see, and fragrance is a powerful attractant.
3. Provide Water
Water and nutrients are just as important as nectar. A shallow saucer of water placed on the ground makes a perfect place to grab a drink. Butterflies are also attracted to the dissolved minerals in mud puddles. To make an artificial puddle, put some coarse sand on a plate or pie pan and keep the surface moist. Place the water or mud puddle in a sunny area that’s sheltered from wind but still easy to see from a distance.
4. Give Them a Place to Rest
All that flitting about can be exhausting. A stack of flat stones in a sunny, protected spot will provide a warm place for tired fliers to catch their breath.
5. Feed the Caterpillars
Butterflies start life as caterpillars, so it’s important to make them welcome, too. Plants that we consider weeds are often important food sources for these larvae. Designating an out-of-the-way area for weeds is an easy way to create caterpillar habitat. Some other host plants for larvae include violets, hollyhock, parsley, dill, milkweed, vetch and thistle.
Making your garden a haven for butterflies lets you enjoy seeing more of them. At the same time you’ll be providing valuable food and shelter for these beautiful winged creatures.
To learn more about this topic, read How to Attract Butterflies.