Creating a butterfly garden can attract hordes of these beautiful flying insects in summer. Butterflies come in all shapes, sizes, and colors. Monarchs, red admirals, swallowtails, and skippers are just some of the types of butterflies you can entice to your yard. These fluttering insects are fascinating and they play an essential role in your garden’s biodiversity.
Apart from bringing life to your yard, there are many reasons to create a butterfly-friendly garden. Studies show that some butterfly populations are under threat due to habitat loss. Certain farming techniques have caused a decline in plants that many butterflies need for food. Also, the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) reports that climate change is disrupting the breeding patterns of many butterfly species.
In this article, you will learn about six easy ways you can transform your garden into an attractive habitat for many types of butterflies.
The Advantages of Creating a Butterfly Garden
One of the advantages of turning your yard into a welcoming place for butterflies is that they benefit your garden.
Most people know that butterflies are important pollinators. Scientists say that the majority of flowering plants need pollinators such as butterflies and honeybees to fertilize plants. So, if you have fruit trees, vegetables, or other plants, you need these beneficial insects to help reproduce plants.
How to Attract Butterflies to Your Garden
Let’s look at six easy ways to attract more butterflies to your summer garden.
1. Plant flowers that butterflies love
The first way to entice butterflies is by planting the right kind of flowers. A variety of pollen-rich annuals, perennials, and shrubs provide food for butterflies from spring until fall. Large colorful flowers such as echinacea (coneflowers), black-eyed Susan, verbena, helenium, and marigolds are ideal flowers for enticing butterflies.
Also, don’t forget to have plants where butterflies lay their eggs and where caterpillars feed. Butterfly larvae love to eat milkweed(Butterfly Weed), an essential plant if you want to attract monarchs, bee balm, pipevine, fennel, knotweed, and cleome. For more information read our article Growing Butterfly Weed in Your Garden.
2. Plant flowers in clumps
Did you know that butterflies don’t have good eyesight? So, if you want to ‘advertise’ your garden as the place to come to, plant masses of brightly-colored flowers. The best colors for butterflies are bright yellow, red, and purple ones. A large clump of flowers all the same color will encourage them to come to your garden.
Also, large flowering shrubs such as hibiscus, meadow sweet, and lilac will help fill your garden with butterflies and beautiful scents.
3. Only use organic gardening methods
Many pesticides are toxic to beneficial insects such as butterflies, ladybugs, and bees, not to mention poisoning the food chain. Although chemicals seem like a quick solution to gardening problems, they are not great for the long-term health of your garden. Organic gardening can help to balance your garden’s ecosystem and control pests at the same time.
For example, many companion plants attract butterflies by keeping away specific bugs and pests that destroy crops.
Of course, if you want to have plenty of butterflies, you’ll need to put up with holes in leaves caused by caterpillars. So, you could plant some extra so there’s enough to go around for everyone. If things start to get out of control, then choose the least toxic pest control method first.
4. Create a butterfly-friendly environment
A butterfly garden is more than just planting flowering plants. To attract butterflies and make them stay, create an environment where butterflies feel at home.
What are some of the ways to make your whole yard inviting for butterflies? Here are a few tips:
- Water—Butterflies need to drink, so put out some saucers where water can gather or create mud puddles in your garden.
- Sunny perches—Put some large stones in bright areas where butterflies can rest up and perch in the summer sun.
- Shelter—Have plenty of shrubs and trees in your yard where butterflies can get protection from the rain and wind.
5. Leave fallen fruit on the ground
Sugary treats are one way to tempt butterflies in late summer and early fall. So, leave a few rotten apples, pears, or berries that have fallen to the ground. The mushy texture and sweet taste are just perfect for enticing butterflies and also giving them plenty of energy.
6. Know which butterflies are common in your area
To increase your chances of your yard becoming a butterfly haven, you should know what butterflies are common in your area. With some research, you can learn about their habitat and the flowers that attract them. For example, swallowtails like to feed on milk parsley. But, if you don’t have many of these butterflies in your area, then you may be disappointed if you plant plenty of these plants with the hope of attracting them.
Some areas are in the migration path of certain species of butterflies. So, it’s a good idea to find out the times of the year when they migrate. You can then prepare your garden to attract these butterflies.