The Butterfly Project

Why Garden for Butterflies?

It's one thing to have a beautiful garden. It's another to have a garden that attracts beautiful things.

There are lots of reasons to garden for butterflies. We couldn't possibly name them all; everybody we know who does it has their own personal reason.

However, whatever your reason, there's a few things to know before you start. This page is designed with that basic information in mind so you can be off and running before the nursery closes.

No Pesticides

I can't be more serious about this one. The same poisons that kill the bugs you don't like, also kill the ones you do. Don't use commercial pesticides. There are sources of information out there on making homemade pest controls that are butterfly-safe. (See: Butterfly Gardening for the South). Otherwise you'll attract the butterflies to your yard, only to be the one to kill them.

Use only organic fertilizers; or, on native plants, none, since fertilizing natives changes growth rates, possibly inducing weaknesses.

Provide Food Year-Round

Plant for an entire year of blossoms, berries, seeds, and larval hosts. Observe nature's process and leave dead wood and decay for foragers and detritivores.

Different species of butterflies emerge in varying months of the year. Sometimes, too, an early warm spell can trigger butterflies to emerge from their cocoons before your usual spring or summer flowers are blooming. Have enough, and of different species of plants, to make sure your garden becomes one of the "hot-spots" for touring butterflies.

Provide Water
  Butterflies like shallow areas of water where they can land and won't drown. Mud, puddles, shallow stone- or sand-filled basins, or fountains with a slow trickle of water are their favorites. The reason why butterflies like this slow, dirty water? Butterflies get their minerals directly from the soil, which is made possible through their water supply.  
The Nitty Gritty

When planning a butterfly garden, it is important to give the butterflies several things to make the habitat attractive to them, as well as fulfill their lifestyle needs.

First, most butterfly books focus on nectar plants, which will only attract transient butterflies looking for something to eat. To encourage butterflies to colonize your garden, you must also plant larval or host plants for the caterpillars to eat.

Create your butterfly garden strategically, with plants or structures that give the little critters a windbreak, as well as flat places to bask in the sunlight. If planting a large area, clump groups of plants together with the taller varieties in the center and shorter ones to the outside. Also, it is better to plant with flower colors in groupings of similar hues, rather than mixing the colors indiscriminately, as this has been observed to be a better way of attracting the butterflies you want.



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 The Butterfly Project is sponsored by Benedictine Healing Products LLC