How to Design a Butterfly Garden

How to Design a Butterfly Garden

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  1. Photo by kevinrosseel/

    Making your dreams come true is as easy as catching a butterfly and whispering it your wish, at least that’s what early Native Americans believed. According to Native American Market, because the butterfly could not talk, he could not reveal the wish to anyone but the Great Spirit. There is no guarantee that planting a butterfly garden will make all your wishes come true, but it will attract butterflies to your yard, creating movement and beauty amid the flowers.

    Selecting a Site

    Select a location for your butterfly garden in an area that receives full sun, but also has nearby shrubs or bushes to provide shelter from summer storms. Butterflies are cold blooded and require the heat of the sun to be active, but do appreciate some shelter..

    Soil Preparation

    Prepare the soil by tilling to a depth of 8 to 10 inches. Remove rocks and garden debris. Amend the soil with a 2-to 3-layer of well-rotted manure or compost and work it in well with the existing soil with a garden tiller or hand tools.

    Choosing Flowers

    Visit your local home improvement center or plant nursery and browse for flowers known to attract butterflies and/or host plants for larvae. Visit The Butterfly Website for a list of appropraite flowers before visiting the nursery to get an idea of what you are looking for.

    Blooming Time

    Read the plant labels carefully to determine the bloom time of each flower, and choose flowers that bloom at different times. This provides a succession of blooms to attract buttterflies throughout the season.

    Perennials or Annuals

    Purchase perennials to establish a butterfly garden that returns each year. Perennials typically bloom for a few weeks each season. Annuals often bloom from spring until fall. Add annuals in the spring to supplement perennials and create a profusion of color all summer.

    Arranging the Plants

    Select tall plants for the back of the garden–if it is viewed from one angle–or the center of beds viewed from multiple angles. Choose medium height mounding plants and place around (or in front of) the taller plants. Complete with small trailing or vining plants. Vary color to add visual interest.

    Add Nectar Feeders

    Include nectar feeders in your butterfly garden to provide an added boost of energy for visiting butterflies. Look for feeders that complement your garden design.

    Fresh Water

    Provide a shallow bowl or tray filled with fresh water to attract butterflies. Fill the tray with decorative pebbles or crushed rock, barely covered with water, to provide easy access for butterflies.

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