Attracting butterflies to your yard is a rewarding pursuit. Sunning on the patio watching the butterflies flutter from flower to flower is a perfect way to pass a hot lazy summer day. Invite more butterflies to your yard by planting flowers and host plants to draw them in. Butterflies play an important part in the eco system. Not only are they pretty and fun to watch, but they also pollinate flowers. In fact, butterflies are second only to bees as pollinators.
Sow your butterfly garden in a sunny place. Butterflies are sun worshippers. They are cold blooded creatures who need the energy drawn from the sun to get them moving. Without the sun, butterflies do not fly. Butterflies are most active when the temperature is between seventy five and ninety degrees because it is hot enough that they do not have to stop and warm up their wings.
Plant a variety of host plants so butterflies will lay their eggs and go through the cycle of life in your garden. Carrot, dill, fennel, parsley and Queen Anne’s lace are favorite host plants for the black swallowtail. Zebra swallowtails favor the paw paw tree. The monarch butterfly only lays their eggs on milkweed plants while the cabbage white butterfly likes nasturtiums, cabbage and broccoli.
Butterflies feed on nectar producing flowers by using their tongues as a straw to sip the nectar. Planting brightly colored flowers in bunches attracts more butterflies. The butterfly bush is aptly named and probably the most popular plant in butterfly gardens. Butterfly weed is a close second. Purple coneflowers, bee balm, and black eyed susans are great perennials that also butterflies. Some annuals to plant are lantana, zinnias, pineapple sage, and Mexican sunflowers.
Those cute wooden butterfly houses are the latest trend for the butterfly garden. While they may be fashionable, they really are not necessary if you have adequate natural shelter for the butterflies. As long as there are shrubs, bushes or leafy flowers for the butterflies to take cover under in inclement weather, they will be fine.
Make sure your butterfly garden has several large flat rocks for them to rest their wings and bask in the sun. Also include a small flat saucer for water. Nectar does not have many nutrients and butterflies absorb nutrients from the wet ground through their feet. Never use any chemicals or pesticides in your garden or you will kill the butterflies you are trying to attract.
Now that your butterfly garden is planted, you can relax on the patio and watch the butterflies. Even though your garden is geared towards attracting butterflies, other insects, such as bees, dragonflies, bumblebees, and birds will also visit your garden. It is all part of the delicate balance of the eco system.