Seeing butterflies flitting around is one of the joys during the summer months. If you are considering a butterfly garden when landscaping your outdoor space, the plants butterflies prefer tend to be ones which are easy to grow.
Attracting butterflies in to your garden can be reassuring too, as they are good indicators of a healthy environment. They will also pollinate your flowers and help attract birds to your garden looking for food.
Plants for a Butterfly Garden
When landscaping a butterfly garden, you need to consider the larva stage of their life cycle as well as the adult stage. Adult butterflies look for host plants to lay their eggs and the resulting caterpillars will eat the foliage.
Nettles are one of the better options. Although considered weeds, leaving a small area of the garden a little wild to include nettles, milkweed or thistles can provide host plants for butterflies. Nettles are particularly useful as different butterfly species seek out specific host plants, but nettles cover a number of species while not taking over the garden either.
By including a wider variety of plants, you increase the chance of attracting more species of butterflies. Once they become adults, they move from eating foliage to drinking nectar. The adult butterfly is always looking for food sources and some of the best plants to include when gardening to attract them include:
- Bee balm
- Butterfly bush
Not only will these plants help attract butterflies, they will also add colour and fragrance to the garden. Many will help support bees, too.
Further Ways to Attract Butterflies
To further attract butterflies in to your garden you could consider slightly adjusting how you mow the lawn. Look to mow less often and when you do mow have the blades raised higher. This should encourage daisies and clovers which grow beneath the height the lawnmower blades reach. These plants are good nectar sources for butterflies searching for food. You will need to avoid using any spray pesticides in your garden too.
When landscaping the garden, consider planting shrubs and areas containing long grasses if possible. Not only do they add visual variety to a garden they also provide places for butterflies to shelter and rest. Butterflies roost at night and they tend to do this on the underside of leaves.
Protecting Your Vegetables
While caterpillars and butterflies may be admired by many gardeners, for vegetable growers it is often the opposite reaction. However, this need not be the case. Netting can be used to protect vulnerable plants such as brassicas, checking now and then to ensure no butterflies are trapped within, which could see caterpillar damage at a later stage.
Apart from physically removing any caterpillars found on plants another option is companion planting. Here you plant something nearby which is more likely to attract the butterflies, such as nasturtiums or calendula. Just make sure you do not place the companion plants too close to the vegetables you are looking to protect.
Our landscape team at Glorious Gardens is happy to discuss these ideas in planning your garden. If you’re considering a “re-do” of your outdoor space, we invite you to call us. We will brainstorm to find the right blend of elements to suit your tastes, your budget and your space.