“Creating Butterfly Gardens”
Butterfly gardens are featuring more and more in regular backyard gardens. Growing beautiful flowers to attract butterflies is an added bonus. Scroll down the page to see what I mean!
There are well over 100,000 species of butterfly in the world.
Human behaviour is affecting the quality of butterfly life and there are a number of species on the endangered list. A good enough reason to create butterfly gardens – an environment for butterflies to visit.
The decision to create a butterfly garden shouldn’t be taken too lightly, however. There are a number of factors to be considered to make a success of any themed wildlife garden, butterfly gardens included.
-If you hope to attract butterflies to your garden, insect eating birds have to be discouraged. That means no nesting boxes, bird tables or even berry bushes nearby. If you’ve been growing fruit, your whole gardening system may have to be changed!
-Butterfly gardens can be created in window-boxes, back yards, suburban gardens or even greenhouses and conservatories. BUT the spot must be in as much sun as possible ( 5-6 hours a day ) and fairly well sheltered from the wind or cold air currents.
-Butterfly gardens need water. Create a ‘butterfly’ puddle by sinking a shallow bucket with a broad diameter in the soil. Fill the bucket with a mixture of soil and sand, and pour water over until the sand stops absorbing it. This will provide the butterflies with a nice watering place. Top up regularly with water. You may even manage to drown a few slugs – always a help with vegetable gardening 🙂
-There are two types of plants butterflies need. Nectar producing and larval food plants. If you provide larval food plants, you will undoubtedly attract more butterflies to your garden, BUT the baby caterpillars will polish off the greenery and you will need to replant regularly. Growing cabbages to eat may be a thing of the past!
-Create butterfly gardens in quiet positions – where humans are not forever passing by is ideal. A little shade is okay. Butterflies are cold-blooded creatures and can sometimes overdo their sunbathing. Shade is often welcome! Although shy of humans, butterflies will be happy to join you when you’re gardening.
-Choose your spot and analyze your soil if possible. Decide on nectar or larval food plants or both. Plan the layout of your plants, placing larval food plants in a more sheltered position and get planting! Growing beautiful flowers will be a pleasure even without the butterflies.
NB: On a more general note:Fill a warm sheltered spot with herbs, wildflowers and nectar-rich plants and the butterflies will love you!
Which flowers should you plant?
Butterflies will obtain nectar from many flowers, usually single petal types. Each species has a different shaped proboscis. This dictates which plants they can extract nectar from. Growing the right flowers is important for the butterfly population..
In general, sun loving brightly coloured flowers will attract all butterflies.
Butterfly Mix – This beautiful collection is available from Thompson & Morgan UK If you type butterfly mix into the search box on their homepage, you’ll find a few butterfly garden choices.
Here’s a short list of easily obtainable nectar producing plants.. There are many many more, BUT beware of introducing non-indigenous plants to your garden, it can mess up the local butterfly community. Butterfly gardens must be for the butterflies after all!
These are a few general Larval Food Plants
Which species feed on which plants will very much depend on your particular region. Try and attract certain species to your butterfly gardens, but avoid the exotic trap. Keeping to local wildlife culture will encourage lots of butterflies to your garden.