There’s something magical about butterflies. Their delicate beauty and fleeting presence lend a special charm to any garden. But beyond their aesthetic appeal, these pollinators also play a crucial role in the health and vitality of your outdoor space.
how can you create a garden that butterflies love to visit? This article explores strategies to make your garden a butterfly haven, discussing the best plants to add, how to provide water, and even how to use stale beer to attract these enchanting creatures.
Choosing the Right Plants
The first step in creating a butterfly-friendly garden is selecting the right plants. To make your garden irresistible, aim to include plants that provide food for both caterpillars (the larval stage) and adult butterflies.
Caterpillar Food Plants
Milkweed (Asclepias spp.): This plant is a must-have if you want to attract monarch butterflies. It’s the only plant on which monarch caterpillars feed.
Parsley, Dill, and Fennel (Petroselinum crispum, Anethum graveolens, Foeniculum vulgare): Black swallowtail caterpillars find these plants appealing.
Asters and Hollyhocks (Aster spp., Alcea spp.): These are favorites of several moth and butterfly species, including painted ladies and checkered skippers.
Adult Butterfly Nectar Plants
Butterfly Bush (Buddleja spp.): This shrub, true to its name, is known to attract a wide variety of butterflies.
Coneflowers (Echinacea spp.): These plants not only lure butterflies with their nectar but are also attractive to a variety of other pollinators.
Zinnias, Marigolds, and Sunflowers (Zinnia spp., Tagetes spp., Helianthus spp.): These vibrant flowers are excellent for drawing butterflies.
Remember, variety is key. The more diverse your garden, the more types of butterflies it will attract.
Providing Water and Minerals
Butterflies need more than just nectar. They also require water and minerals, typically obtained through a behavior called “puddling,” in which they sip at damp spots in the earth. To cater to this need, consider adding a butterfly waterer or puddler to your garden.
How to Create a Butterfly Puddler
Choose a shallow dish or saucer—terra cotta plant saucers work well.
Fill it with a mix of sand and soil.
Bury the dish into the ground, with the rim at ground level.
Add water until a puddle forms on the surface, keeping the sand/soil mixture damp but not flooded.
For an extra mineral boost, you can also add a pinch of table salt or a small piece of overripe fruit.
Attracting Butterflies with Stale Beer
You can use beer in your garden for all kinds of cool things like attracting butterflies. Believe it or not, butterflies are attracted to the sugars in fermented fruit and, yes, even stale beer. The yeast in beer helps break down sugars into simpler forms that butterflies can digest.
Here’s a simple trick: soak a sponge in stale beer and place it in a saucer. You can also mix stale beer with overripe fruit or molasses in a shallow dish. Place this “butterfly buffet” in a spot protected from the rain and wait for your winged visitors to arrive.
Other Tips and Tricks
Avoid using pesticides in your butterfly garden. These chemicals are harmful to all insects, including butterflies and caterpillars. Opt for natural safe garden pest control.
Butterflies need shelter from wind and weather. Provide this by leaving patches of tall grass and shrubs in your garden.
Add Butterfly Houses
While butterflies don’t use houses in the same way as birds, they can sometimes use them for shelter during inclement weather. A butterfly house can also be a charming addition to your garden aesthetic.
Maintain Sunny Spots
Butterflies love to bask in the sun. Be sure to maintain sunny spots in your garden where they can warm themselves.
Attracting hummingbirds and butterflies to your garden involves providing the right plants for food, supplying water and minerals, offering fermented treats, and creating a safe and comfortable environment. It might require a bit of effort, but the reward of a butterfly-filled garden, bustling with life and color, is more than worth it.