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My Butterfly Garden Lessons

My Butterfly Garden Lessons

Since my younger years, bugs have fascinated me. I spent much of my childhood playing in the dirt and chasing rolly pollies. I usually befriend spiders, rather than killing them. Like most ladies, I prefer the prettier bugs – especially butterflies. It’s been a long-term goal of mine to have a beautiful butterfly garden. One that is a nice compliment to my home, offers a pretty view for my neighbors and attracts graceful butterflies. With a yard to call our own, my boyfriend and I have decided to invest some sweat equity into a butterfly garden. We haven’t even constructed the things yet, but I’m already learning my share of lessons. Here’s what I’ve learned so far…

Consider the butterflies

Planting pretty flowers near your home does not automatically attract butterflies. Butterflies demand specific plants and flowers to compliment each stage within their life cycle. In order to decide which flowers you will plants, you must:

  • Carefully research the butterflies native to your area.
  • Identify plants that will support the caterpillar, cocoon and adult stage of a butterfly’s life.
  • Determine which of the butterfly attracting plants are suitable for the location of your butterfly garde.

It’s also important to understand that butterflies enjoy a variety of plants that are grouped together, so try to get a few different types of plants and flowers and clump them together.

I used a website to determine which butterflies are native to Michigan. I then determined which plants were most common among my options and decided if they would work with my yard. And then, I created a list of plant possibilities from that research.

Shop around

A butterfly garden is a long-term investment. Butterfly attracting plants are often perennial and will return every year. Don’t just purchase a plant because it was suitable for your needs and the first one you found. Purchasing the plants and flowers for your butterfly garden should be well thought out. Shopping around will introduce you to new plant and flower varieties. Additionally, you may be able to snag a deal along the way. Keep an eye out for coupons and sales at your local hardware store or nursery. Also, make sure you stop by your local Farmer’s Market.

I took a trip to Eastern Market to locate my flowers. I was amazed at the deals I snagged. I was able to purchase 26 separate plants for a mere $55. In retail stores, such as Home Depot, I would have easily paid $100+ for the plants I selected.

Carefully identify a location

Once you have determined which flowers you’d like use in your butterfly garden, you must select the perfect location for it. Review your plant’s needs for shade vs. sun and water requirements. Also review the space necessary for each plant and find a location that is large enough.

Unfortunately, our original location in the backyard floods each spring and most of my plants are not flood resistant. So, we have decided to do a landscaping overhaul in the front yard. I’m excited that I will get to share my butterfly garden with my neighbors, but slightly disappointed that it won’t be near our fire pit area.

Go above and beyond

Planting the perfect butterfly garden requires that extra touch. Things to think about include:

  • Do you need a trellis?
  • Do your butterflies have a water source? Such as a pond or bird bath.
  • Do the butterflies have shelter? This could be a butterfly house or a specific bush or tree.

Additionally, remember that pesticides can deter and even harm butterflies, so it’s best to grow an organic garden. Some birds will eat butterflies, so don’t hang a bird house that could house a predator bird near your butterfly garden.

Do you have a butterfly garden? I would LOVE to hear about it!

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