It’s almost summer, and summer brings to mind wafting clouds, sunny days, flowers, and butterflies. Ok, maybe not quite, but butterflies are definitely in there somewhere. If you’d like more butterflies in your summer and you’re not overly interested in raising them yourself, never fear! You don’t need to grow butterflies indoors to have them outdoors! You just need to grow the right plants. What do you need to grow butterflies in your garden?
First, you need a garden that is safe for butterflies. Caterpillars are butterfly babies, and yes, they do eat leaves. This means that some gardeners squish them and others spray them. If you want butterflies in your garden, you need to give them a few plants as a sacrifice. Those butterfly babies need a place to grow. Research food plants for your local native butterflies. For example, monarch butterflies love to use just about all of the varieties of milkweed as host plants. This is what the caterpillars eat as they’re growing up. Every area has different butterflies, so investigate what butterflies live in your area at a site like Butterflies and Moths of the USA.
Then, you’ll need a garden that’s rich in nectar. Butterflies slurp up nectar using a long proboscis. In the process, they pollinate your flowers. It’s a mutually beneficial relationship that’s great to have in your garden. As with the host plants, butterfly nectar plants vary from species to species. However, two particular plants are good for many different butterflies. These are butterfly weed, also known as orange milkweed or pleurisy-root, and Butterfly Bush or Buddleia. If you’re interested in research, you and your children can move beyond these standbys into the world of butterfly food plants and create a diverse garden with different nectar plants that bloom every week.
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