How To Create a Butterfly Garden
Guest-Blogger Kaytie Dowling from www.GardenKitchenHome.com
Herb gardens, container gardens and veggie gardens have—one could say—had their day in the sun. While growing food and consumables is certainly haute these days, it isn’t the only reason to get your hands in the dirt.
Imagine this: You, sitting outside, surrounded by plants you’ve loved and cultivated. To your left, a monarch touches down on a bud for a light lunch before flittering off to sample from the asters a few feet down. Sound too serene to be true? It doesn’t have to be, if you make a few smart planting choices.
Butterfly gardens are, at their most basic level, filled with flowers. Many—but not all—common blooms produce nectar, which feeds butterflies. If your garden is begging for large plants, consider shrubs such as azaleas, blueberries, butterfly bushes, lilacs and sumacs. Annuals including coneflowers, flowering tobacco, sunflower and verbena are good, compact options, as are perennials such as asters, chrysanthemums, sedum and daisies. And if you prefer wildflowers, black-eyed Susans, blazing stars and ox-eye daisies can also attract winged visitors.
The best bet for attracting butterflies is to plant a variety of nectar-producing plants.
However, not all flowers will flourish in all areas. And more importantly, not all butterflies migrate through all regions. The most sure-fire way to figure out what works in your region is to contact the local cooperative extension. These university-based offices help gardeners and farmers alike make the most of their land, and can give expert advice for regional growth patterns. Find your closest cooperative extension here.
The best bet for attracting butterflies is to plant a variety of nectar-producing plants. But all of those varieties can create visual chaos. Keep things streamlined by planting several large groupings of each plant. It’ll give your eyes a place to rest, and offer lots of options to different breeds.
It’s also important to reduce the use of pesticides in your garden. The same chemicals that keep aphids at bay will prevent swallowtails from visiting your home. This means you’ll have to avoid broad spectrum pesticides in favor of spot treatments in troubled areas. Try soaps, oils or microbial options.
And if you weren’t blessed with a green thumb, there’s no need to despair. Butterflies will also seek out feeders, if flowers aren’t readily available. You can buy commercially made butterfly feeders, or DIY one. You’ll need a small glass jar and its lid, a drill, cotton swabs, sugar and water. First, drill a hole in the jar’s lid, and stuff it with cotton. Next, fill the jar with one part sugar to nine parts water. Close the lid tightly, invert, and wait for your new guests.
See more tips from Kaytie at www.gardenkitchenhome.com and enter to win a Thymes Garden Alchemy Gift Basket!
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