How To Create a Beautiful Butterfly Garden
Anyone who loves nature can appreciate the beauty of a butterfly. Creating a garden that attracts these colorful creatures can add to your enjoyment of the floral fields that you plant around your home every year. The root, pun intended, to having a Butterfly Garden is to grow plants in which butterflies will be attracted.
There are two categories of plants to include in your garden. First is the host plant, which caterpillars feed from and where butterflies will lay their eggs. Host plants are meant to be eaten by the caterpillars, so if you only have host plants, your garden will have a “munched” look to it. If your host plants are being eaten, then you know that the caterpillars are enjoying the garden. The second category is the nectar rich flowers from which butterflies will get their nourishment and shelter. Planting bushes or plants with colorful flowers that the adults like to visit can fill in the “eaten” appearance of your garden. If you provide both of these types of plants, you will cover the entire butterfly cycle and enjoy these fluttering creatures in your garden year round. It is just a matter of balancing the two and planning the layout.
Try to provide different flower shapes and colors. Different species of butterflies are attracted to certain flower shapes and colors due to their feeding and pollinating habits. Plant red, pink, yellow, orange, white, blue and purple. Blue and purple tend to be the less desirable color for butterflies. It is speculated that this is due to their preference of nectar from the other, warmer colors.
In their pre-butterfly, larvae stage, each caterpillar will only feed on one type of plant, their host plant. Here are some plants that caterpillars and butterflies enjoy:
- Passion Vines. This attracts the Zebra Longwing, the Florida state butterfly. Stripes of black and pale yellow make up this elegant insect, which look like the stripes on a zebra. It is very striking. The lifespan of this creature tends to be a bit longer than the average butterfly, spanning several months instead of a few weeks. If you want to see this beauty fluttering around your garden, you will want to plant Passion vines.
- Milkweed is the only plant that Monarch caterpillars will eat or lay their eggs within. Monarchs are one of the most popular butterfly due to its highly recognizable orange and black wing pattern. Milkweed can be found in wildflower fields. With over 100 varieties, be sure to find a plant indigenous to southern Florida. Use caution if you have pets as this plant is highly toxic to animals.
- Blue Porterweed. This plant can be used as a ground cover since it is low-growing. It is a perennial that blooms year round and self-seeds. The Blue Porterweed is native to Florida and grows horizontally, while the non-natives grow vertically. Butterflies that like the nectar of this flower are the Julia, the Large Orange Sulphur, Gulf Fritillary, and the Tropical Buckeye.
- Lantana. Part of the Verbena family, the lantana plant is mainly used as a perennial in the warm Florida climate. The flower grows in a cluster, often with many colors within that same cluster. The bold reds, yellows, oranges, pinks and purples are great attractions to butterflies.
- Salvia Coccinea. Native to Florida, this flower is a huge butterfly draw. It self-seeds, so it can become an aggressive plant in your garden. Salvia is available in beautiful blues, purples, pinks and reds. They’ll add a colorful splash to any garden.
Some other common flowers and bushes that you might want to consider are the Penta, Beach Sunflower, and Firebush. If you focus on bushes and flowers that are indigenous to Florida, not only will they survive the humid, hot climate, but they will also attract native butterflies.
Two more useful tips:
- It is important that you do not use pesticides on your butterfly garden as the poisons will be ingested by your colorful, fluttering visitors. If you need to rid them of pests, do so through introducing predatory insects to the garden which will eliminate the problem.
- Make sure that you plant in both the shade and the sun. Just like humans, some butterflies prefer to bask in the sun, while others prefer the shade
Get started on your own butterfly garden! Stop in to see us or give us a call. Our garden experts are happy to help! Shell Lumber & Hardware is located at 2733 S.W. 27th Avenue Miami, Florida 33133. We can be reached by phone locally at: 305-856-6401 or Toll Free: 800-621-6391. You can also visit us online at http://shelllumber.com/ to learn more.