Butterflies are always a pleasant sight, their bright colors and gentle fluttering flight patterns complement any garden. They also benefit the garden itself by pollinating flowers. If you want to attract more of these beautiful insects to your own backyard, then follow these handy tips.
- Plant Diversity
It is almost impossible to plant many flowers and not attract at least some butterflies. To draw in a greater variety of them, plant many different kinds of flowering plants. Plants that have multiple fragrant blossoms such as lilac and the aptly named butterfly bush will draw in more butterflies than individual flowers. Also, remember that different butterfly species mature at different times during the warmer months, so having flowers that bloom throughout the spring and summer may help keep different butterflies interested in your garden.
- Know Your Butterflies
Different species of butterflies prefer different types of flowers. If you are interested in a certain kind of butterfly that lives in your region, a quick search on the internet can get you tips for attracting them. A full list of butterflies that live in New York State is well beyond the scope of this article, but here are some of the more common ones: Monarch butterflies prefer butterfly bush, lilac, goldenrods and zinnia; Swallowtails are also fond of butterfly bush, and lilac, but will also be attracted by phlox, and honeysuckle; the clouded sulphur butterfly likes marigold, and goldenrod, in addition to phlox, and zinnia.
- Nurture Caterpillars
Butterflies start their life cycle as eggs which hatch into larva called caterpillars. The caterpillars feed on plants and fruit, and eventually they spin a cocoon and pupate into a winged adult. While many plants that caterpillars like aren’t necessarily flowers, planting them at the edges of your property encourages butterflies to lay eggs there and gives the caterpillars something to eat. Remember that these plants are meant to be eaten by the caterpillars, so don’t panic if you see them getting nibbled. Once again, the internet is a good source for tips on nurturing caterpillars. Milkweed is associated with the caterpillars of the beautiful monarch butterfly, but its flowers will also interest adult black and tiger swallowtails. Painted lady caterpillars aren’t picky, but they do like thistle, hollyhock, and sunflower. If you plant a cherry tree, spring azure, and viceroy butterflies may show up to lay their eggs.
- Create a Butterfly-Friendly Environment
Butterflies like sunlight and they also like shelter from the wind. Providing these in your landscaping will keep butterflies happy and coming back year after year. You should also consider providing clean water for butterflies to drink. A fountain is a good choice, but a birdbath will also suffice. Finally, try to avoid using pesticides in your garden. Consider attracting natural predators of insect pests instead. By creating a healthy ecosystem in your garden, you will help conserve the butterfly population and be treated to the sight of them in your backyard. Helping butterflies is its own reward.
Wiesner Bros. nursery has many butterfly-friendly flowers and bushes ready to be planted in your garden. Our landscaping specialists would also be happy to aid in creating a favorable environment for butterflies and other pollinators.