Who doesn’t like butterflies? They are colorful, vibrant, and attractive. Overall, butterflies are a visual treat to the eyes. But if you a part of the population that resides in a concrete jungle, you must have noticed that there are lesser butterflies around than ever before. This beautiful marvel of nature is on the brink of disappearing from the face of the Earth – especially from the over-crowded, polluted cities. However, you can create a safe haven for these butterflies right outside your house or school. All you have to do is build a butterfly garden. Invite the colorful insect near you by following this easy ultimate guide to creating a butterfly garden.
Choose the right plants
The plants that you choose to have in your butterfly garden depend on the various kinds of butterfly species that hover in your surrounding area. To get a better understanding about the kinds of butterflies that roam your town, talk to a horticulturist near you. Also, you might benefit from interacting with a butterfly gardener in your area (if you are lucky enough to find one).
There are various butterfly field guides to help you choose the right plants easily. You can also research online about the butterfly species that are found nearby. Usually, the butterflies in your area will feed on plants that are native to your surroundings.
Go for the nectar plants
Another easy way to look for the right plants is to simply go for the nectar plants. Most butterflies will easily get attracted to the nectar plants, especially if they come with bright colors. Various plants which produce nectar are – purple coneflowers, butterfly weed, milkweed, asters, cosmos, marigold, etc.
Select some host plants to attract more butterflies
Once you are aware about the species of butterflies that are commonly found in your area, it is time to identify the host plants for your butterfly garden. Host plants are the plants on which these butterflies lay eggs. It is crucial to select the right host plants, since all butterflies are very picky when it comes to choosing their host plants.
Monarch butterflies are most likely to lay their eggs on the milkweed plant, since the baby caterpillar will only feed on milkweed. Likewise, Gorgone Checkerspots will lay their eggs only on the sunflower. By researching thoroughly about the kind of butterflies present in your surroundings, you can easily find plants that attract them the most.
Choose the right location
Butterflies are cold-blooded insects. They require a lot of heat and sunlight to keep themselves warm every single day. So, your butterfly garden doesn’t need only the right kind of plants, but also the right kind of location.
To choose the best location for your butterfly garden, select the sunniest spot around your house or school. If you are unsure about it, spend a day at the location where you are planning to build your garden and monitor the sunshine and shade ratio.
Be on the lookout for the spot where the sun stays the longest. An ideal spot for your butterfly garden is the one where there is enough sunshine for at least 6 hours a day.
Protect your butterfly gardens from strong winds
It is also important to choose a location where only mild winds blow. Strong winds prevent butterflies from relaxing at one spot, eat or lay eggs. These strong gusts make butterflies panic, and they can spend a lot of their energy trying to stop themselves from not getting blown around.
The best way to select a spot like this is to look around for a wall or a fence. A shed is also a good place to start. Just ensure that enough sunlight can penetrate the walls, but strong winds find this an obstacle.
Choose the right butterfly-friendly elements
You have decided on the ideal location. You have chosen the best plants. But have you consider the minute elements which can make or break your butterfly garden? Do you know about the crucial role that rocks, sand, and butterfly boxes play in inviting a host of butterflies to your garden?
Butterflies are small, delicate insects. They need to sit around lazily and warm up for the day, before they go and find the best nectar plants to feed from. For this, the best idea is to place a couple of small but flat rocks in your butterfly garden.
Place these rocks in such a way that the first sunrays of the morning falls straight on these rocks. And if a similar thing can repeat itself even in the afternoon, then you will see how a hoard of butterflies flock towards the rocks.
Create a special spot with wet soil
Butterflies are strange insects indeed. While most of the insects and birds prefer to quench their thirst from a deep source of water – such as a birdbath or a small pond – butterflies do this by sucking on the damp soil on the ground.
A simple way to attract more butterflies into your garden is to create a designated spot filled with sand. Keep adding water to make it damp enough. If you are short on space, then try doing the same on a small saucer or tray.
Build a butterfly box
If you don’t want the butterflies to leave your garden during the night or during a patch of rough weather, consider building a butterfly box. This is very similar to a birdhouse, except that this one comes with multiple slated openings.
The ideal location for the butterfly box is on a tree. But you can also position it on the side of your shed, or upon a stake. The slated openings will ensure that no bigger bird or insect can penetrate the shelter and cause harm to the butterflies.
Some optional butterfly-friendly elements that you can include in your butterfly garden is a tray filled with fruit scraps or a butterfly feeder filled with sweet crumbs or nectar.
A butterfly garden is one of the most beautiful things to have around your house or school. Not only will it provide a safe, attractive, natural shelter for the small, colorful insects, but also turn your house or school surroundings more inviting and appealing to others.