Butterfly Friendly Gardens
Imagine sitting outside on your patio enjoying a cup of coffee on a lazy Saturday morning, and along with the wind gently blowing the seed heads of your ornamental grasses back and forth you see movement just above the flower tops. Then you feel the joy that comes from experiencing one of earth’s most delicate creatures – the butterfly – visiting your garden. Your home just a pit stop on its life’s journey where it can linger and enjoy the food, water, and shelter you have provided for them.
These fascinating creatures are one of the best side benefits to having native plantings incorporated into your garden. The more habitat and food sources you create in your garden, the better the chances of having a multitude of butterflies visit throughout the warm season. There are a variety of host plants for the butterflies to lay their eggs on which provide a food source for newly hatched caterpillars that are imperative if you are looking to entice butterflies to stick around your created habitat. Some of my favorites include Symphoricarpos, Aster, Penstemon, and Asclepias. Then as these butterflies mature and start to migrate, you’ll need both early and late season bloomers in your garden to provide a nectar source to feed them on their travels. Purples, reds, oranges, and yellows attract the most butterflies as well as add a punch of color to the garden. I love seeing the purples of the Baptisia flowers in spring, the bright oranges and yellows of the Gaillardia in the summer and then the reds of the Asters come fall. Not only are these Minnesota hardy perennials native and colorful they provide a valuable nectar source for the migrating adult butterflies.
Don’t forget to add a shallow water source for the butterflies, like a birdbath with some perching stones or sand along with basking stones so they can build up enough body heat to fly.
If you’re not sure where to start, consider having master plan created to assist you on your journey, and make it a better journey, for the butterflies.