Spread your wings and try your hand at creating a lovely butterfly garden.
BUTTERFLIES ARE SOME of the most beautiful and exotic creatures found in local gardens. With the right flowers and plants, you can create an intoxicating oasis that will entice them to your own yard year-round.
Before you begin, “Consider the location and size of your garden,” says Albert Riddle, landscape architect and president of Fig & Vine Garden Design in Orlando. He cautions that some butterfly plants look great in the nursery but can then go wild once planted in your yard at home. “Check your garden weekly to make sure one plant isn’t taking over the others,” he says.
Edna Kane, a certified horticulture professional at Lukas Nursery in Oviedo, agrees: “The key is to get the right plants. Then you can let nature take its course.” Lukas’ Butterfly Encounter, a 4,000-square-foot native butterfly conservatory, is a great place to view the insects in various stages of their metamorphosis.
CATERPILLAR FOOD These host plants will attract a variety of caterpillars and butterflies
to your yard.
Milkweed = Monarch
Passionflower = Zebra Longwing
Pipevines = Pipevine Swallowtail
Bays = Tiger Swallowtail
Sennas = Orange-barred Sulphur
BUTTERFLY ATTRACTORS These native plants are good nectar producers. They’re also drought tolerant, with the exception of salvia, which can act like an “indicator” plant letting you know when it’s time to water. Pentas and porterweed also are favorites of hummingbirds.
Butterflies and their larvae require two types of plants—host and nectar—and you’ll need both. Female butterflies lay their eggs on the host plant; it’s also what the larvae eat when they emerge. Most species prefer one particular type of plant. The host plants will draw butterflies to your yard. However, it’s the nectar plants that will keep them there since that is ambrosia to the adult butterflies. Kane recommends planting three nectar plants for each host plant.
SECRETS TO SUCCESS
1. Butterflies don’t like chemicals.
Make sure your plants are
2. Plant in the sun, but it’s best if part
of your garden is shaded—that’s
where females like to lay their eggs.
3. Butterflies love variety—in plant
type and height. Plant an array of
nectar sources; this will invite more
butterflies to your garden.
4. Relax. “If you plant them, they will
come,” Edna Kane says. “Remember,
monarchs can smell their host plant
from miles away if the wind is right.”