How to Create a Beautiful Butterfly Sanctuary in Your Backyard

List: Posted: 11/02/11

The weather has finally gotten warm and you may be dreaming of turning your backyard into a garden oasis.  If you are interested in having more than just greenery in your backyard, you should consider starting a butterfly garden.

 

When you create your very own butterfly sanctuary, you will provide a safe and a beautiful place for butterflies to live.  By planting flowers, you will provide valuable nectar for the butterflies in your community.

 

Butterflies Need Four Main Things

 

In order to start your butterfly habitat, you will need four very important things.  Food and water will provide adequate nourishment.  Butterflies also need a place where they can raise their young and they also need plenty of shelter.  Whether your garden is large or small, just by having these four simple elements, you will have the perfect place for the butterflies to call home.

 

Butterflies need abundant sunshine so that they can stay warm while they are resting.  For this reason, you will want to choose a sunny location.  Your plants will also need sunshine for optimal growth.


Do Your Research

 

By doing just a few short minutes of research you can determine the species of butterflies that are found in your area.  You can also consult your local Department of Natural Resources for more information, or ask the staff at your local plant nursery or garden center.  If you know what butterflies will be stopping by your garden, you will know which plants those specific butterflies prefer.

 

Next, choose food sources and plant them.  Butterflies enjoy nectar from flowers with long and tube-like proboscis.  If you’re just not sure which plants generally attract butterflies, choose perennials, annuals, wildflowers, or shrubs.  Your butterflies might also enjoy plants such as coneflower, salvia, Queen Anne’s lace, lilacs, and phlox.

 

Surprisingly, these winged friends also enjoy the juice from overripe and rotting fruit. So that you can provide your butterflies with the fruit that they enjoy, you can position a shallow dish on the ground by your garden and add a piece of over-ripe fruit a couple of times each week.

 

Adapting Your Space for Butterflies

 

You will also need a water source.  Butterflies prefer shallow puddles, which absorb minerals.  To create the ideal butterfly puddle, take a small dish or a birdbath and fill it with sand and rocks. Then fill it with enough water to moisten the sand.

 

Now it is time to plant the host plants!  While butterflies need nectar plants in order to survive, they also need plants where they can nourish their young.  For example, Monarch butterflies lay eggs on milkweed plants and then their young caterpillars feed on the leaves and stems.  Black swallowtail butterflies, however, prefer parsley, Queen Anne’s Lace and fennel.

 

Shelter is the last thing that your butterflies will need.  Their shelter does not have to be elaborate.  It can be a tall bush, a shrub, or a tree that is placed close to the butterfly garden.  A lilac bush is not only a wonderful nectar source, it is also optimal shelter.  Willow trees, butterfly bushes, and tall ornamental grasses also work well.

 

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