Butterfly Bounty-by Angelina Jordan Item Number: butterfly-bounty-by-angelina-jordan
An array of brilliantly-colored blooms filled with fluttering butterflies is immediate evidence of your gardening devotion. For most flower enthusiasts, this is certainly no accident, but rather a well-planned, dedicated effort with both the blooms and the butterflies.
Butterflies are the perfect byproduct of one of nature’s most awesome processes, metamorphosis. In other words, they evolve through a series of developmental stages, beginning as eggs. Caterpillars or larvae hatch from the eggs, advancing to the chrysalis or pupae stage. It is from the chrysalis that the butterflies emerge.
Typically, butterflies have a lifespan of about two weeks. The adult butterflies mate, the female lays her eggs and the cycle of metamorphosis repeats itself.
Mother Nature has done a superb job in perpetuating butterflies, but you can lend her a welcome hand. She’ll reward you with generations of breathtaking beauties on shimmering wings all season.
Butterflies primarily feed on nectar. Your role begins with planting flowers that produce large amounts of this favorite butterfly drink.
You’ll achieve the best results and attract more butterflies by planting flowers in groups or clumps, rather than individually. Since butterflies have color preferences, try to color-coordinate your plantings. Remember though that their main preference is flowers, so the more flowers you plant naturally, the more butterflies you’ll attract to your garden.
Fare for Butterfly Fancy
Attracting butterflies to your garden can be as simple as planting these easy-to-grow nectar plants. These can be grown in all Zones:
Heliotrope – opens in the east in morning, turns west during the day, and back to the east during the night to meet the morning sun.
Lantana – exotic shrub featuring multicolored flowers; newer varieties bloom more continually than older varieties.
Milkweed – the common name for Asclepias, this wild-growing native plant grows randomly in fields and along roadsides.
Mint – easy-to-grow perennial herb. Butterflies prefer spearmint, peppermint and applemint. It’s perfect for limited spaces such as patios. Plant it in hanging baskets or flower boxes for attracting butterflies in urban areas.
Pentas – also called the Egyptian Star for its clusters of tiny flowers. These humidity-lovers will bloom all year if you pinch off the tips of the stems.
Porter Weed – once thought of as merely a weed with flowers. It grows hardy and is a resilient bloomer of deep purple flowers when fertilized.
Verbena – rapid grower native in many regions, requiring little care. Butterflies are naturally attracted to its aromatic red and purple flowers, another “must have” for hanging baskets and flower boxes.
Zinnias – an old-fashioned favorite of blazing hues. They produce a feast of nectar that butterflies can’t resist. Even inexpensive seeds will produce robust flowers. For a shoestring gardening budget, they’re an absolute.
Extending the Perfect Butterfly Invitation
Butterflies are as finicky as they are beautiful. In order to make sure that they stay in your garden, you’ll have be a proper host... which in this case means that you must have an ample supply of host plants for them.
Each species of butterfly has a host plant, meaning that there is a specific plant where each species lays its eggs and upon which the caterpillar or larvae feed. Butterflies will only stay where the host plant is available. For attracting a particular species, you’ll need to plant its preferred host.
Your local agricultural extension agency can be a helpful resource for information on butterflies that are native to your area. You can also learn about specific native plants to which they are attracted.
Your Butterfly IQ: True or False?
Butterflies aren’t as plentiful now as in the past.
True. There are fewer today, with some
species nearly extinct.
False. Whether limited to patio space or completely unlimited by space, you can create a garden that will attract butterflies.
Butterflies are colorblind.
False. Butterflies can actually see more colors than humans.
Butterflies are attracted to pastels.
False. Brighter is better, with crimson red their favorite color. Think sun colors such as orange, yellow, purple and vibrant pinks too.
Butterflies like deep water.
False. They prefer shallow pools. Surprisingly, butterflies have a definite preference for muddy water. You can often see them after the rain sucking water from the moist ground.
Rocks and leaves discourage butterflies.
False. Butterflies need the sun to warm their wings for flight and adore sunbathing on rocks. Their favorite place for sleeping is tucked in underneath leaves.
Beyond Your Backyard
Creating a garden environment in which butterflies thrive definitely has a personal appeal. There’s no lovelier sight than watching them dance their dazzling butterfly ballet in our own garden paradises. However, when you nurture the growth and procreation of butterflies, you are nurturing nature and ensuring its existence for future generations, a gesture of generosity in itself.