Butterfly garden

Butterflies are some of the most beautiful and interesting creatures on Earth. Read more about this wonderful creatures.

A butterfly garden is an easy way to see more butterflies and to help them, since many natural butterfly habitats have been lost to human activities like building homes, roads and farms. It is easy to increase the number and variety of butterflies in your yard. Simply grow the plants the caterpillars like to eat, and butterflies plants that adult butterflies feed on.

Butterfly garden
Butterflies in a garden

Butterfly gardens are best planted in the spring with younger plants or in the fall with mature plants that will become dormant quickly and re-emerge in the spring. It is best not to plant in the heat of summer or the cold of winter. The general requirements for butterfly gardening are:

Good Spot

Plants, especially flowering plants, need sun to make food for themselves and nectar for butterflies.  Butterflies also need sun to warm their bodies for flight. You will rarely see them in shade for a long time. Choose a place which is close to your window so that you can observe closely and have fun watching the wonderful sight of colourful creatures glide around in your garden.

Butterfly garden
Nectar for butterfly

Also, butterflies are relatively weak fliers. Don’t put your garden in a windy, exposed position. If your whole yard is windy, plant some shrubs or large dense perennials so that the butterflies can feed in peace on the flowers.

Nectar Plants

Butterflies are attracted to flowers with strong scents and bright colours where they drink sweet and energy-rich nectar. Common nectar plants in India are sunflower, marigold, lantana, petunia, hibiscus etc.

One of the most common mistakes in butterfly gardening is planting only one nectar source. Adult butterflies have a very short lifespan. Planting a variety of nectar sources will encourage more butterflies to visit the garden.

Host Plants

Planting an adequate supply of host plants gives butterflies a place to lay their eggs, which will successfully hatch and result in butterflies that will continue to visit the garden. If you do not provide host plants, you will have fewer butterflies.

Butterfly garden
Food for caterpillar to grow

Butterflies typically lay their eggs in late spring, and the eggs hatch 3–6 days after they are laid. It takes 3–4 weeks for a caterpillar to pupate and 9–14 days to emerge as an adult. Since tiny caterpillars cannot travel far to find their own food, female butterfly locates and lays her eggs on only the type of plant that the caterpillar can use as food. Most species of caterpillars are particular about the type of plants they can eat. If the egg was not placed on the correct plant, the caterpillar hatching from that egg will not survive. Many gardeners do not like to see plants in their gardens that have been chewed on by bugs. To avoid this, you can place your host plants in areas that are at a short distance from butterfly nectar plants.

Common host plants are: parsley, dill, sweet fennel, orchard grass and sunflower.

Colourful Plants

Butterflies see more colours than humans do. They seem to prefer red, orange, yellow, purple and dark pink. A large colourful garden is easy for butterflies to find and encourages them to stay longer.

Butterfly garden
Butterfly feeding on Sunflower

Pesticide-free environment

Pesticides kill butterflies, caterpillars and other useful insects.  Try these methods instead:

  • Plant marigolds, petunias, mint and other herbs that naturally repel pests
  • Encourage ladybugs and dragonflies to dine in your garden
  • Wash pests away with insecticidal soap

 In the end, residential and commercial development is destroying natural wildlife habitat. Where ever possible, we need to encourage habitat restoration in order to encourage butterfly and songbird populations. Butterfly gardening can be one positive step in that direction.

Happy Gardening

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