The Outdoor Campus - East
How to Build a Butterfly Garden
What Does it take to feed butterflies?
It takes both food for the butterflies, as well as food for the caterpillars that will become butterflies!
|Black Swallowtail||dill, carrot, parsley|
|Giant Swallowtail||prickly ash|
|Eastern Tiger Swallowtail||Ash|
|Cabbage Butterfly||cabbage, mustards, cauliflower|
|Alfalfa Butterfly||alfalfa, clovers|
|Melissa Blue||lupines, alfalfa, wild licorice|
|Variegated Fritillary||violets, pansy|
|Great Spangled Fritillary||violets|
|Mourning Cloak||willows, American elm, hackberry|
|Hackberry Butterfly||hackberry trees|
Nectar Sources for Butterflies in Zones 3 and 4
|Alyssum||Aster||Bee Balm||Butterfly Bush|
Here are some more hints for creating your own butterfly garden!
- Locate the garden in a sunny area with protection from the wind. Butterflies and most butterfly-attracting plants require bright sunlight.
- Plant nectar-producing flowers. Butterflies visit flowers in search of nectar; a sugary fluid, to eat. Many native butterflies seem to prefer purple, yellow, orange, and red-colored blossoms. Clusters of short, tubular flowers or flat-topped blossoms provide the idea shapes for butterflies to easily land and feed.
- Plan for continuous bloom throughout the growing season. Butterflies are active from early spring until late fall. Plant a selection of flowers that will provide nectar throughout the entire growing season.
- Use large splashes of color and select single rather than double flowers. The nectar of single flowers is more accessible and easier for butterflies to extract than the nectar of double flowers which have more petals per flower. Large splashes of color will attract butterflies. Groups of flowers are easier for butterflies to locate than isolated plants.
- Include caterpillar host plants in the garden design. Host plants provide food for caterpillars and lure female butterflies into the garden to lay eggs.
- Provide damp areas or shallow puddles in the garden. Butterflies cannot drink from open water, but prefer damp areas and shallow puddles. Male butterflies will congregate at puddles.
- Place flat stones in the garden. Butterflies often perch on stones, bare soil or vegetation, spread their wings and bask in the sun. Basking raises their body temperatures so they are able to fly and remain active.
- Do not use pesticides in or near the garden. Most traditional garden pesticides are toxic to butterflies. Use predatory insects, insecticidal soap or hand remove the pests of problems occur.
- Become a butterfly watcher. Get to know the colorful butterflies that visit your garden. They are easy to identify with a good field guide.
- Enjoy your garden!