Butterfly Garden Plan

The fun about making a butterfly garden plan is regardless of space,
it reflects you.

Even though you will be creating your own butterfly sanctuary, butterflies seek a habitat. There are things that attract adult butterflies where they will fly around and leave. Then there is creating the welcoming environment where after mating, the female can lay her eggs in host plants ultimately allowing the life cycle of a butterfly to take place.

Regardless of where you live and the space available, here is a list on how to attract butterflies. Your space may be limited to a balcony, a small yard space or a large butterfly garden - get creative and have fun creating your own butterfly habitat.

Photo: David Paul Ohmer

1) Nectar Sources - Flowers and Feeders

Although butterflies are known to consume more than nectar, this primarily is what adult butterflies need for nourishment. Flowers offer pollen where the butterfly can feast. A butterfly feeder is something you can put out also offering butterflies to dine in. This is the same for limited space or larger areas. For smaller areas you will be using containers and hanging baskets. Larger areas have more flexibility to be spread out.

Flowers to attract butterflies - Go for the Colors! Butterflies have compound eyes where they see things differently than we do. Colors will pull them in. Although humans don't see it, flowers have ultraviolet markings to them that bring in flying insects. This helps the pollination process.

Butterfly Feeders - Home made or store bought, place fruit
out on a plate or create your own sugar and water.

2) Water Sources - Sand, Rocks, Salt Block

After a rain or as a standing water source, butterflies seek the salts and minerals in the soil for additional nourishment. This is called puddling. These needed salts and minerals aid in butterfly reproduction. Butterflies will also puddle or seek shade if they are hot and seek relief from the sun.  See what do butterflies eat for more information.

As with nectar sources this can be done if space is limited and for large garden areas to.

Sand -Get a dish and place soil and sand in it. Both provide the needed nutrients and placing sand in it retains the water longer. Sand also deters garden pests that are found in gardens.

Rocks -Not only are rocks attractive to a butterfly garden plan
but they are highly functional. Whether it is morning dew or a rain, rocks have these same needed salts and minerals. Butterflies are especially active in the morning but for those late sleepers place plastic underneath the rock. This way water will trickle down and the water will be held in the plastic.

Salt Block -Salt blocks are something that can be purchased and you can also make your own.

You may also consider a garden fountain. Keep in mind fountains
will require more maintenance than the above listed water sources, which don't collect mold and bacteria.

3) Basking Source -

Butterflies need Sunny, Open Areas

Photo: Battle Creek CVB

Butterflies are cold blooded and rely on the sun to warm them.
Cold blooded means that they can't regulate their body temperatures.

When temperatures are warm, butterflies are active.

If it gets cold they lose their ability to function well.

To remain active butterflies must bask, or soak in the sun. The best temperatures for them to function in are 80 - 100 degrees. When temperatures go below 60 degrees butterflies lose
their ability to function effectively.

If space is limited- Avoid taller plants or objects that will
cast shadows over blooming flowers or basking areas.

For larger areas- Your butterfly garden plan includes tall
plants, shrubs and trees, make sure they are placed in the
back areas where they won't block the sun and can be used
as a garden windbreak.

4) Butterfly Host Plants -

After butterfly mating host plants suited to specific species is where the female will lay her eggs. After the butterfly egg has hatched the emerging caterpillar relies on the food provided by host plant and relying on it also to provide shelter.

If space is limited to a balcony - This could be tricky but possible. Take the attitude that you are raising butterflies and place host plant in a large planter, as if container gardening.

If space is a small or large yard - Use a raised garden bed, or not. Raised garden beds with added soils will also have fewer pests.

5) Butterfly House -

A butterfly house can be effective depending on where it is placed. If not located properly, butterfly houses can be just yard decorations.

6) Colors for your butterfly garden plan -

colorful flowers
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Photo: Paul Brennan

One butterfly garden tip is that the color purple and yellow especially draw in butterflies, although you still can't go wrong with a variety of different colors.  Even though we humans love these colors in our gardens, butterflies see color differently.

Having a great butterfly garden plan helps in other ways...

  • Studies led by Nate Perkins of the School of Landscape Architecture at the University of Guelph, Ontario states: 

  • Kids are distracted with all of the electronics of today. Playing in various outside wild environments seemingly develops children’s imaginations in ways that any virtual stimulation will not. Although your butterfly garden plan may not include only wild environments, it introduces responsibility and creativity.

  • The other study showed that property values increased 
    by 4 to 15 percent when trees are planted on a property than properties without them. The reason for this is completely visual. Properties with trees cover hard visual lines caused by roofs and power lines. Any butterfly garden plan will include trees, shrubs and larger plants needed as windbreaks. Imagine how soft your property will look when trees are combined with soft plants and a variety of color.

Related Articles:

Butterfly Food - Other food sources for butterflies.
Pollination Process - Why this is important.
Compound Eyes - More about butterfly anatomy.
Butterfly House - Butterfly decorations or a hibernation boxes?
Butterfly Mating - What happens before host plants are needed.

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