Tired of winter and its chillier-than-normal staying power? So are we! Thankfully, February's arrival means spring is only a month or so away. And there's no better way to welcome spring than with gardening.
Today, Joshua McMorrow-Hernandez is here to discuss the perfect gardening idea to usher in the season with style: Butterfly Gardening.
Butterfly populations are at risk these days, with the majestic Monarch among the most endangered. But thankfully, there are many things you can do in your own landscape to help keep these beautiful flying insects from passing away into extinction.
For example, perhaps you’ve heard of milkweed? It’s a type of flowering plant that has a milky sap and is crucial to nourishing butterflies such as monarchs during their migrations. And while this variety is important, a really good butterfly garden will include many different kinds of plants that can nourish butterflies and give them the nutrients and protection they need to thrive.tips for building the best butterfly garden in your neighborhood.
1. Don’t Stop at Milkweed!
There are many other kinds of plants that butterflies love. In addition to milkweed, other great butterfly plants include the Mexican Flame Vine, Azaleas (Rhododendron), and Stiff Goldenrod. Of course, check your USDA hardiness zone to see what plants will grow best in your yard.
2. Splish, Splash - Remember the Bird Bath
One great way to provide butterflies with fresh water is to install a bird bath in your butterfly garden. No, bird baths really aren’t just for the birds! Butterflies love them, too, because they offer a place to sip water and gives them a place to perch. You might also or instead install a small water pond in your butterfly garden.
3. Make Your Garden Rock
Did you know butterflies are attracted to rocks? Rocks give butterflies natural resting perches, and many butterflies even ingest nutritious minerals from rocks. You can choose from rocks of various sizes, types, and colors to offer variety and visual interest to your yard. This helps ensure your favorite winged guests have everything they need to make themselves at home in your yard.
4. What About Shelter?
Butterflies need a place to hide away from predators, take cover during storms, have a place to rest, and lay eggs so that their young can grow into an adult butterfly someday. A butterfly garden shelter may consist of tall shrubs such as the Firebush, Lilac and Butterfly Bush (aptly named!). Vine-covered pergolas also provide butterflies with an excellent place to feed and take cover from the elements.
5. Avoid Chemicals
One of the most notorious causes of the dwindling butterfly population is the widespread use of glyphosate broad-spectrum herbicides. This popular weed killer is responsible for knocking out milkweed and many of the other most important plants for feeding butterflies. But if you must use pest control, consider organic options, such as essential oils or neem oil mixed with alcohol and witch hazel.
Butterfly gardening is a fun and rewarding hobby that can help save butterflies and provide your yard with a diverse array of colorful foliage. Chances are that your butterfly garden will attract many other types of essential creatures, including honey bees, hummingbirds, and much more. Plant a butterfly garden and watch Mother Nature reward you with multiple shades of beauty and a variety of life - happy gardening!