Ever watch how delicately butterflies land on a vibrant blossom? It’s one of the most relaxing sights in the garden, isn’t it? Butterflies and flowers depend on each other for survival, so when you plant native flowering plants, you’re providing the nectar and foliage they need both as caterpillars and full-grown adults. Here are some things to keep in mind if you want to attract these lovely pollinators to your yard.
A blast of color
Butterflies love red, orange, yellow, pink and purple blooms, and they prefer if they’re flat or grouped together, with short flower tubes. The National Wildlife Federation offers a great list of plants to attract various butterflies, and The Lady Bird Johnson Wildlife Center has a fabulous database of native plants by region.
Rays of sunshine
Because adult butterflies mostly feed in full sun, plant good nectar sources for them in your sunniest spots. Try grouping varieties with different blooming times, so butterflies always have something to eat.
Offer some respite
Butterflies get tired after flying all day, so they’ll love some flat stones in your flowerbeds where they can have a rest. They also love hanging out in wet sand or mud – it’s called puddling! – so scatter a few shallow pans of damp sand for them in sunny locations. If your yard gets very windy, plant against a fence or hedge to protect the butterflies. Groundcovers, shrubs and evergreen trees also provide good shelter. Butterflies will also love a refreshing source of water, such as a birdbath with river rocks in the bowl.
Feed the babies
Many gardeners see caterpillars as pests that cause plant damage, but putting caterpillar nutrients in your garden means you’ll get some unique butterflies. For example, herbs like dill and parsley will feed caterpillars that become Black Swallowtails, whereas Monarch caterpillars love milkweed.
Toss the pesticides.
Try to use natural pest deterrents in your garden, especially around nectar-producing plants, as many pesticides will kill butterflies.
Tell us what kinds of butterflies hang out in your garden!
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