Spring is right around the corner and I am always so ambitious and motivated once we start to get regular doses of sunshine. We are starting to plan our exterior projects for this year and that includes some planting of flowers and gardening and general freshening up.
We are also in the middle of an insect project with my little girls. They recently started homeschooling and they have been tracking the progress of a caterpillar to butterfly to learn about life cycles. This is really something fun to do with kids and has just strengthened their fascination with butterflies and ladybugs and bumble bees. So I was thinking we should really try to find plants that will attract butterflies to our yard- especially perfect around the fairy gardens that you guys know we already love.
So just in case you are also interested in attracting butterflies into your garden, here are some tips to make your garden welcoming to butterflies:
- Red, yellow, orange, pink and purple colored flowers that are flat topped and have short flower tubes. (Flat topped would be something like a daisy)
- Butterflies like to feed in full sun so try to plant where the nectar source will receive full sun from mid morning to mid afternoon. (If you only have shady areas, here is a list of plants that might work in partial shade or full shade.)
- Flat stones are great to allow butterflies a chance to bask in the sun and rest.
- I am sure it goes without saying any pesticides and insecticides will also kill the butterflies that try to visit your yard so skip ’em.
- Some herbs will also attract butterflies including: lavender, dill, mint, sage, thyme and oregano
- If you have strong winds in your area, you might consider providing some sort of wind shield near your flowers to help the butterflies in flight.
- Butterflies also need sources of water. A shallow dish or some sort of puddle near the flowers is perfect. Butterflies taste with their feet and can not land in deep water so a terra cotta saucer, rocks and sand, a sea shell etc… are all ideas to create shallow puddles.
- Rotting fruit is also a wonderful food for butterflies. Some people leave sliced oranges or pineapple out in butterfly gardens. In our area, this would be a recipe for ants and squirrels so a butterfly feeder might be a great alternative.
And here are specific plants to encourage butterflies (obviously you want to check with your local garden center to see which plants are best for your region. It is very important to plant native flowers to ensure the best chance of healthy butterflies in your garden.):
- Milkweed (we learned in our caterpillar/butterfly research that Monarch butterflies specifically like to lay eggs on the underside of Milkweed plants. Milkweed is the only thing a Monarch caterpillar will eat.) Please note there are tons of varieties of milkweed and not all attract Monarch butterflies. Find some suggested varieties for your region by clicking here.
- Bee Balm
- Queen Anne Lace
And now you are ready to get dirty in the garden and hopefully have some beautiful houseguests very soon.
Here are a few other things you might enjoy:
*This particular one is what I ordered. It is a little more expensive but actually comes with the caterpillars. The other gardens are slightly less expensive but come with vouchers to mail away for caterpillars and they charge a $5 mailing fee. Our caterpillars took about 2 1/2 weeks to go into the chrysalis and should take about 10-14 days inside that before they become butterflies.
And some fun project ideas: