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BUTTERFLIES - Encourage Them To Visit Your Garden

Painted Lady Butterfly Want to design and plant an area in your garden that will attract Butterflies? Here are some ideas on how to go about properly setting aside a portion of your garden for these interesting, colorful, winged beauties! In addition to attracting Butterflies, most of the plants mentioned in this article are attractive plants that merit a place in any garden.

LOCATION

The best location for your Butterfly garden is a bright sunny area, with a bit of a windbreak. They need at least one or two mediums sized flat rocks, so they can bask in the sunlight and the warmth of the reflection of the rock. Since they are cold blooded they need warmth to help rise their body temperature.

WATER

They will also need a place to obtain water and the essential nutrients and minerals from the water. Specialists recommend you submerge a bucket in the soil, fill-it with sand, then fill water to just below the surface, and add just a little bit of salt on the surface. (Salt provides the sodium they need.) Note: I mentioned to fill the water to just below the surface, they need the moisture, but prefer the sand be moist, not wet.

PROTECTION

It is generally considered best to use quite a few plants in you plantings so as to provide the protection they need, during inclement weather or at night. During those times they retreat to the undersides of the leaves of their favorite trees, shrubs and flowers. So plan the Butterfly garden so it is almost as wide, as it is long. This provides the proper protection and incentive for them to visit and, maybe even stay for awhile. Design the plantings to include a mix of low, medium and tall plants. In other words, you want to create a planting similar to what would be nature's natural Butterfly habitat.

BREEDING PLANTS

There is a group of plants often referred to as 'Host plants' or 'Larval food plants'. These are the plants on which they lay eggs and are the source of food for the caterpillars. Borage, Dill, Fennel, Mints, Parsley, Passion vine Snapdragons are just a few of the most common plants to include for this purpose. Birch, Dogwood, Hawthorne, Crabapple, and Willows are among the best trees to use. Roses, Ceanothus and Currant are just a few of the most popular shrubs to encourage breeding.

NECTAR PLANTS FOR FEEDING ADULT BUTTERFLIESLarkin's Admiral Butterfly

It is generally believed that plants with purple, pink, yellow or white (single) flowers are most attractive to Butterflies. Asters, Coreopsis, Coneflowers, Goldenrod, Lantana, Lavender, Marigolds, Petunias, Shasta Daisies, Verbena, Tithonia (Mexican Sunflower), Pentas and Salvias are popular nectar (food) plants to use in the Butterfly garden. These shrubs are some of the best plants to attract adult Butterflies: Azaleas, Butterfly Bush, Ceanothus, Abelia, Choisya, Mock Orange, Escallonia, Oregon Grape and Spirea. For trees you can use Lilac, Plum, Pear and Cherries, plus others.

CONTAINER PLANTINGS

Give some consideration to planting up a container that includes a mix of the nectar plants. Then place the container near the entry, on the patio, deck or lanai where you can more thoroughly enjoy and encourage the Butterflies to visit. Be certain to always have a camera ready, so you can capture the beauty of these colorful winged creatures.

HIBERNATION OF BUTTERFLIES

A few Butterflies spend the winter months in tree crevices, small opening in siding or walls as adults. However, you can also make a 'Butterfly House' for them. Its' an attractive addition to the butterfly garden. Unfortunately, Butterflies seldom use them. The reason is that there are very few Butterfly species that over winter as adults in the Pacific Northwest. (They are more apt to winter-over as adults in drier, cool climates.)

In addition to attracting Butterflies, most of the plants mentioned in this article are attractive plants that merit a place in any garden.

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