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How to Create a Butterfly Garden

A butterfly garden is designed to attract and feed butterflies to promote their well-being and survival. These gardens are also called butterfly sanctuaries and butterfly habitats. This diurnal insect of the order of Lepidoptera (suborder Rhopalocera) is closely related to the moths they evolved from. Butterflies are deeply connected to flowering plants. The adult insects feed off and lay their eggs on flowering plants. Their larvae are dependent upon plants and especially enjoy eating leaves. Butterflies also pollinate a wide variety of flowers that open during the day, though they are less efficient pollinators than bees. These beautiful flying creatures enjoy frequenting large and attractive blooms. Unlike bees, butterflies have good color vision and are often attracted to the color red. However, many are in trouble today due to habitat loss. Another cause of declines in butterfly populations is the use of chemicals designed to keep pests away from garden plants. Chemical sprays can harm butterflies. To help populations flourish, humans can plant attractive and colorful flowers where butterflies can lay eggs and caterpillars can hatch and feed. Additionally, humans can avoid chemical usage to enable butterflies to thrive. Here are some tips for planting a successful butterfly garden at home:

  • Choose the ideal location. You’ll want to pick an area that gets sufficient sunlight for flowers to grow. The soil must have adequate drainage and nutrients, plus appropriate levels of sun exposure for plants and butterflies to thrive.
  • Fill your garden with a variety of colors for maximum success. Follow all planting directions carefully to ensure proper plant growth. However, be sure to pick the right flowers. MasterClass suggests filling your garden with two types of plants: nectar and host plants. Adult butterflies require a nectar source for nourishment. Host plants will provide a place for butterflies to lay eggs and provides a support structure for butterfly chrysalis.
  • Do some vital research. Should you want to attract monarch butterflies, understand that they feed on a wide variety of nectar-bearing flowers. Also, be aware that Monarch butterfly larvae eat two main types of milkweeds. Without milkweeds to exclusively provide food from egg to chrysalis, they cannot survive. Monarchs enjoy flowers with flat surfaces so they can stand while nectaring. Some flowers that attract them are Zinnia, Brazilian Verbena, Butterfly Bush, Goldenrod, Cosmos, Lantana, Lilac, etc.
  • Experts recommend that you provide butterflies with a small puddling pool in the sun to provide minimum amounts of moisture for them. This includes filling a shallow dish with garden soil and/or small rocks and keeping it moist by adding water every day. Better Homes & Gardens recommends adding minerals periodically by sprinkling salt, compost, or small pieces of decomposing fruit. Note that butterflies do not benefit from deep ponds, fountains, or water features. Water must be minimal.
  • Trees, shrubs, and vines are protective plants that can offer shelter for butterflies in stormy weather. So, it’s important to consider adding some of these elements close to your garden.
  • Keep some smooth flat rocks in the sunny areas of your garden to help the cold-blooded butterflies maintain body temperature in the sun while resting and rejuvenating.

Creating an ideal space in your garden for butterflies is a wonderful way to support nature and the environment. Not only will your garden provide opportunities for flowers and butterflies to flourish, but it also offers chances to welcome, watch, and appreciate these beautiful, winged creatures up close and personal.

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