Carolee's Herb Farm

Carolee's Herb Farm

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Tips for Successful Butterfly Gardens Print E-mail

Tips for Successful Butterfly Gardens

The Butterfly Garden at Carolee's Herb Farm

   1. Choose a sunny, well-drained site for your butterfly garden, preferably where you can view it easily, but away from traffic (both auto and human!).
   2. For a more effective garden, and better viewing, group plants together, rather than scattering them all over the yard. The adults will find groupings easier, and find their stay more rewarding.
   3. Choose some plants that bloom in each season: spring, summer, autumn.
   4. Choose plants that provide food for the caterpillars as well as those flowers that are good nectar sources for the adults.
   5. Place caterpillar plants where you won’t mind the eaten foliage. Tuck them behind floral plants, and use masses of them, so no one plant is totally devoured.
   6. Provide sun, shade, water, and protection from the wind.
   7. Pesticides kill butterflies and caterpillars, so be sure the plants you grow have not been given a systemic pesticide (such as Marathon). Never use harmful sprays or poisons. If you have insect problems, look for alternative methods.
   8. Butterflies are most active on balmy, sunny days. On windy, chilly, or rainy days, they seek shelter.
   9. Female butterflies are very particular, and lay their eggs only on plants that the hatching caterpillars will find edible. Do not disturb these host plants (such as dill, parsley, fennel, butterflyflower) as they may be harboring eggs.
  10. If you’d like to increase the number of butterflies in your garden, put out a food mixture of 1 cheap beer, 1 very ripened banana (peeled & chopped), 1 cup brown sugar, slightly mixed together. I like to keep this in a shallow container that can be covered, and bring it in at night to prevent other critters from dining!
  11. Research shows that purple is the favorite color of butterflies. Yellow is second, but preferences vary from species to species.

Plants preferred to lay eggs on:

  • Black Swallowtails: Dill, parsley, fennel
  • Monarchs: Butterflyflower (Asclepias)
  • Great Spangled Fritallary: Violets
  • Painted Lady: Rabbit Tobacco, Pearly Everlasting
  • Red Admiral: Nettles
  • Question Mark: Hops, Nettles
  • Giant Swallowtail: Rue
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