Butterfly in garden

Attracting Butterflies to Your Garden

Attracting butterflies to your garden is easy once you understand what butterflies need and want.

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Butterflies are attracted to a garden for two reasons, food in the form of flower nectar and habitat, conditions that butterflies need to reproduce and thrive. Examples of habitat conditions include puddles or moist areas that butterflies use to obtain nutrients from, sheltered sunny spots to bask in, and host plants in which butterflies can lay their eggs. Each butterfly has a species-specific host plant, for example monarch butterflies lay eggs in milkweed plants.

Shallow depressions in the soil in which rainwater collects are ideal for butterflies. Alternatively, you can create more permanent puddles by burying a shallow container so that itís flush with the ground, fill it with sand, and then add water to it. Butterflies are cold blooded and need to bask in the sun to keep their body temperature warm. A flat open lawn area or group of flat stones are two easy ways to provide sunny spots for basking butterflies.

Each butterfly has its own preference for flower nectar. Native flowering perennials, trees, and shrubs that bloom throughout the growing season such as purple coneflower, goldenrod, butterfly weed, black-eyed Susan, and the redbud tree are excellent choices for butterfly gardens. Flowering plants should be planted in small groups of 3 to 5 plants, or in a mass. A large grouping of wild bergamot for instance is better than planting a single species because a greater number of butterflies will flock to them.

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