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Butterfly Beauties

March 16, 2016 by Wright Outdoor Solutions

If you have always wanted to try your hand at butterfly gardening, let this be the year you turn it into reality. Gardens catering to butterflies can vary in size and color, adding a special touch to any landscape. Here’s how to get started:

Planning

1. Do some research on native butterflies. Learn which butterflies are native to your region and decide which ones you want to attract. Reiman   Gardens has a list of native Iowa species online that you can peruse.

2. Choose the right plants and flowers. Do some more research on the flowers your preferred butterflies feed and lay eggs on. Adult butterflies will take up residence longer if they find host plants to lay their eggs on.

What is a host plant? you ask. Butterflies use host plants for egg laying. The plant provides food for emerging caterpillars. However, the emerging caterpillars will do quite a bit of munching on the host plant, as it is a food source for their growth. Thus, you may want to place host plants in a different area of your garden than the main butterfly garden if leaf appearance is an important thing.

3. Select your space wisely. Consider an area that allows enough space for the specified plants and flowers to grow to maturity. If you are looking for a butterfly garden plan, Better Homes and Gardens has a free plan online.

 

Tips

  • Plant in full sun. Plant health and nectar production for butterfly gardens requires a good amount of sunlight. Butterflies also like to be warmed for flight.
  • Plant butterfly-attracting & nectar rich plants. Butterflies are attracted to strong scents and bright colors. Place plants and flowers in casual clumps with like colors grouped together. Choose flowers that provide a good landing pad for butterflies to rest on and sip nectar from. Some great choices for a butterfly garden are butterfly bush, cosmos, marigolds and phlox.
  • Choose color. Butterflies see more color than the human eye, so the more color you can plant the more you will attract these beauties. The colors they tend to prefer the most are red, orange, yellow, purple and dark pink.
  • Avoid chemicalsPesticides can kill butterflies and caterpillars, so avoid using chemicals, and look for natural alternatives.
  • Provide a water sourceButterflies not only need nectar but a water source as well. Fill a shallow dish with wet sand for them to drink from. The wet sand provides not only water but a mineral source as well.

Iowa State University Extension and Outreach has some great resources in their Extension Store for butterfly gardening. You can find them here. Additionally, our Garden Center will be opening April 15. Make sure to stop by for materials, information and tips on getting started with butterfly gardening.  Or, feel free to give us a call at 515.987.0800.

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