Butterfly Gardens Provide Habitat, Perpetuate Gardens, and Help to Conserve Flora and Fauna
Several times a week, I am asked what one thing I might suggest another person do to help the environment, conserve gardens, and/or improve the general landscape of our community. Time and again, my suggestion is that the singular best and simplest way to make a positive impact on the environment is to cultivate a butterfly garden. More often than not, though, that suggestion is met with this response: “I don’t have the foggiest idea how to start butterfly gardening — you’ll have to help me.”
The truth is, there are few things I enjoy more than introducing others to the art of planting gardens to attract butterflies. With so many challenges facing the lives of pollinators, any help home gardeners, civic organizations, and even companies or municipalities may provide the diverse butterfly population is worth the time, effort, and investment.
Butterflies are Gardeners, Too
The most important factor in developing your own butterfly garden is choosing plants for butterflies. Not every flower assures your garden will attract butterflies, but certain plants are natural choices for specific butterflies who will either lay their eggs upon the leaves or feast upon the nectar.
Egg-laying butterflies instinctively choose plants that make proper hosts for their offspring. While some gardeners cringe to imagine caterpillars munching holes through the leaves of their prized garden citizens, those gardeners who have selected specific butterfly plants in hopes of creating a butterfly garden of their own understand that the loss of a few leaves devoured during the larval stage is a small price for the benefits that the pollination-assisting butterflies deliver for the gardens in general.
Feasting on nectar gathered from flowers, butterflies provide invaluable assistance to flower-bearing plants. Flitting from one flower to another, the butterfly pollinates the flowers, encouraging the propagation of the plant species. Laying eggs on this same plant or another, the butterfly ensures the propagation of her own species. This is the natural order of things.
Meanwhile, what horticulturists know and the general gardening population is coming to understand is that the role butterflies play in gardens extends far beyond the beauty and entertainment they provide. Promoting pollination in gardens, butterflies help to ensure, too, a natural, organic escalation in produce yields from a variety of gardens. Furthermore, wherever caterpillars and butterflies reside, birds will be attracted, too. Acting as a food resource as well as a pollinator, butterflies attract birds that will consume large quantities of a variety of insects, many of them considered garden pests and potentially harmful to humans if not kept in check.
Six Ideal Butterfly Plants
Among the plants hopeful butterfly gardeners should consider incorporating into their own butterfly gardens are:
Native to the United States, these butterfly plants are better choices for a number of reasons, including environmental adaptations, pest resistance, and relationships to butterflies whose habitat is local or who pass through as they migrate far distances. Selecting all of these native plants simplifies any approach to butterfly gardening as the the diversification of heights, colors, and flowering seasons the collection represents ensures a diverse range of butterflies to be attracted and a broad attraction season.
Bringing these flowers together in your own garden space, you’ll accomplish more than effective butterfly gardening. Your efforts will result, too, in increased wildlife habitat, promotion of food and flower plants, and conservation of flora and fauna. Considering all this, it is easy to understand that developing a thriving garden designed to attract and host butterflies truly improves the world.
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