Creating a butterfly garden is an exiting and rewarding endeavour. It is easy to invite butterflies in to your area by gardening with their needs in mind. These beautiful insects will add bright colours and entertaining antics to your garden display. Locate the garden in a sunny area Butterflies and most butterfly attracting plants require bright sunshine. Plant nectar producing flowers Butterflies visit flowers in search of nectar, a sweet fluid produced by flowers, as a reward for pollinating insects like bees and butterflies. Many British butterflies seem to prefer purple, pink and yellow coloured blossoms. Clusters of short, tubular flowers or flat topped blossoms provide the ideal shapes for butterflies to easily land on and feed. The nectar of single flowers is more accessible and easier for butterflies to extract than the nectar of double flowers which have many more petals. Use splashes of colour in your landscape design Butterflies are first attracted to flowers by their colour. Groups of flowers are easier for butterflies to locate than isolated plants. Plant for continuous blossom throughout the season Butterflies are active from early spring until late autumn. Plant a selection of flowers that will provide nectar throughout the entire season e.g. spring - Hesperis, summer - Buddleia, autumn – Sedum. Include caterpillar host plants in the garden design Caterpillars are selective feeders and only eat specific kinds of plants. Usually the female butterflies lay eggs on or near the plants their caterpillars prefer to eat. If the desired food plants are not available, the butterflies will not egg lay, or the caterpillars will starve rather than eat another type of leaf. Having the correct food plants will lure the female butterflies into your garden and provide food for their caterpillars. Place flat stones in your garden Butterflies love to sit in the sun and often perch on stones bare soil or vegetation to spread their wings and bask in the sun. Basking raises their body temperature so they are able to fly and remain active. Use biological controls for pest management Most garden pesticides are toxic to butterflies. Using biological methods will get rid of the pests without killing butterflies.
Just relax The best way to get good results for a butterfly garden is to relax and enjoy it, don’t worry about the odd pest or patch of long grass, some butterflies actually lay eggs on rough grass and stinging nettles are a very important host plant for a lot of caterpillars so if you can spare it leave a patch of your garden to go a bit wild. Here is a list of some of the best nectar plants you can get for your garden. Spring Flowering
Ceratostigma plumbaginoides Origanum spp.
This is a list of the most common host plants for caterpillars. Alliaria petiolata - Garlic Mustard - Orange tip, Green veined white
Anthyllis vulneraria - Kidney Vetch - Small Blue
Cardamine pratensis - Lady’s Smock - Orange Tip
Fragaria vesca – Wild strawberry - Grizzled Skipper
Lotus corniculatus – Birds foot trefoil - Common Blue, Dingy Skipper
Potentilla reptans - Creeping cinquefoil - Grizzled Skipper
Rhamnus frangula - Alder Buckthorn - Brimstone
Urtica dioica – Stinging nettle - Peacock, Small Tortoiseshell, Red Admiral, Comma
For a full list of all the host plants for local butterflies go to
www.warwickshire-butterflies.org.uk or go to the British butterfly conservation society website www.butterfly-conservation.org or call 01929 400209.
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