Top Ten Guidelines for Butterfly Gardening:
1) Watch butterflies in nearby areas to see which flowers they prefer.
2) Grow plants recommended for a variety of species.
3) Position plants in a sunny place, sheltered from wind.
4) Grow large clumps of the most favored species.
5) Try to maintain diversity in height, color and blooming periods.
6) Don't use pesticides, and restrict your use of biological conrols that affect caterpillars to surgically strike trouble spots. Products like BT that are safe and effective against bagworms, for example, will also kill butterfly caterpillars.
7) Provide a mud puddle in a sunny spot.
8) Grow larval plants for butterflies that appear in your garden. Learn to recognize weeds that grow in your garden and in wild scrubby areas so you can leave them for the butterflies.
9) Leave some undisturbed corners for weedy larval and nectar plants.
10) Expand your garden's focus to include other insects, amphibians, songbirds and mammals to create a habitat for all creatures!
Butterflies are choosy insects. Any gardener can have aphids, but Red Admirals, Painted Ladies, and Tiger Swallowtails insist that certain conditions be met.
Ample sunshine is the foremost consideration.
Butterflies avoid shady areas. Ideally, your garden should have a southern exposure. Butterflies use early morning for basking on sun-warmed rocks, bricks or gravel paths. As morning temperatures rise, they begin visiting their favorite nectar flowers, but always in sunlit areas of the garden.
Butterflies prefer gardens that are sheltered from prevailing winds. If yours is not, consider planting a windscreen of butterfly bush or viburnum - both shrubs which are rich in nectar. As an added bonus, many nectar plants also attract hummingbirds!
Create a shallow puddle to attract swallowtails, blues, sulfurs and other butterflies that enjoy drinking at mud puddles in order to obtain needed salts in their diet. A sprinkling of table salt and the addition of some manure will increase the puddle's appeal. Since salt harms plants, however, use a saucer or locate the puddle outside your flower border.
In February 2007, we registered Vinland Valley Nursery as an official Monarch Butterfly Waystation through the Monarch Watch program.
It's easy to do, and it's a fun way to be a part of this global conservation effort. For information on how you can create a monarch habitat to help these gentle creatures, visit Monarch Watch through the link to the left!