Tips on Creating a Backyard Butterfly Garden

A garden in the sun will attract more butterflies.

Creating a butterfly garden in your yard pays off by attracting birds, bees, and butterflies to your yard and rewarding you with amazing wildlife close-ups. Simply by planting the right flowers, adopting organic gardening practices, and taking advantage of your garden's sun exposure, you can draw butterflies and other winged creatures into your backyard. 

Choosing a Good Location for a Butterfly Garden 
Butterflies like to eat in the sun, just like you might like to do on a nice summer's day. If you can situate your butterfly garden in the sun, you will attract way more butterflies than if you only have part sun exposure. If that means that pruning shrubs or trees will brighten your yard, do it. 

Types of Flowers for a Butterfly Garden 
In general, wildflowers and native flowers are best for attracting butterflies because they have evolved together with the butterflies. Native flowers require little maintenance, as they are adapted to grow well in your geographic region. You won't need to spend a lot of time watering and weeding these to enjoy a colorful show. Look for wildflower seeds or native flower starts at your local garden center. 

Wildflowers and native flowers are best for attracting butterflies.

Monarch butterflies particularly enjoy lilac shrubs and milkweed flowers. Painted Ladies like cosmos, a widespread annual flower. Other common blooms that entice butterflies include aster, viburnum, and even flat-leaf parsley, a favorite of the Black Swallowtail caterpillar. Host plants, which include willow, milkweed, and black cherry, provide food for caterpillars. 

You'll also need to pay attention to bloom time and color. Butterflies enjoy feasting on flowers in a range of colors, but especially like red, yellow, purple, pink, and orange blossoms. Try to select flowers that bloom at different times to attract butterflies for the duration of the season. If all of your flowers bloom at once, your garden could be butterfly-free when the blooming stops. 

Butterflies need a standing water source from which to gather minerals.

Butterfly Garden Tips
To attract butterflies and other creatures to your garden, it's essential that you not use insecticides. These products will kill caterpillars and other insects. If you want to keep these creatures coming to your yard, then you must avoid any insecticides, even those that are marked as "natural."

It's important to provide butterflies with a source of water so they can "puddle" or gather minerals from the standing water. Place some rocks or sandy soil in a dish and add water to create a mineral-rich puddle for butterflies. If you've got the space for it and the inclination, you could add a fresh-water pond to your butterfly garden. Skip the temptation to add fountains or waterfalls, which aerate the water and discourage butterflies. 

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