Essentials for Building a Successful Butterfly Garden
- Adult nectar sources (N) – attract and nourish adult butterflies.
- Larval host plants (H)- attract ovipositing female butterflies, food source for developing larvae.
- Shelter – vegetation that provides protection from temperature extremes, storms/rain, predators as well as locations for roosting/sleeping.
- Water source with fountain – allows for easy and consistent access to water for drinking and thermoregulation.
- Provide a combination of adult nectar sources and larval host plants – attracts maximum variety of butterfly species; encourages butterflies to remain in your yard, reproduce and build populations instead of just passing through; allows gardener to appreciate all life history stages.
- Incorporate native plants into the landscape whenever possible – most larval host plants are natives; adapted to region; produces a small but representative extension of the natural ecosystem; attracts other wildlife.
- Create horizontal and vertical heterogeneity – choose plants that have different heights and growth habits; creates numerous microclimates which in turn appeal to a greater diversity of butterfly species; provides shelter; creates levels/strata of feeding opportunities).
- Aim for a consistent host plant and floral venue throughout the growing season – choose plants that have different blooming times; ensures that garden remains attractive and productive as long as possible; provides food for butterflies during periods of low natural availability.
- Provide a number of different flower colors – different butterfly species are attracted to different flower colors so include yellow, orange, white and blue flowers as well as reds, pinks, and purples.
- Provide a mix of flower shapes – the feeding behavior and proboscis length of a butterfly dictate which flowers will be visited: long-tubed flowers, for example are typically more accessible to species with long probosces whereas many composites (daisy-like flowers) provide a feeding platform and easy nectar accessibility for smaller species.
- Plant in shade as well as full sun – appeals to more butterfly species; many forest species prefer shadier locations.
- Plant in groupings – aesthetically pleasing; provides masses of color; more apparent in landscape; allows larvae to locate additional food resources in event of shortage.
- Choose appropriate plants for each location – understand each plan’s basic water, light, and soil requirements; will perform and grow to its maximum potential.
- Give new plants a good start – water and mulch new plantings to insure firm establishment.
- Fertilize – a regular fertilizing regiment will produce maximum growth and flower production.
- Avoid pesticide application when possible – all butterfly life history stages are very sensitive to pesticides; avoid Bacillus thuringiensis; when pest problem arises treat it locally; use beneficial insects/natural enemies.
- Learn to identify the butterfly species in your garden – provides greater enjoyment; allows for gardener to “plant” for particular local species.
BENEFITS OF BUTTERFLY GARDENING
- Attract wildlife – bring butterflies and other wildlife into your garden for purposes of enjoyment, observation, study, and photography.
- Ecosystem/habitat conservation – a well-planned butterfly garden becomes a small, but representative sample of the surrounding habitat and as such provides a safe haven for butterflies and other wildlife to gather, seek shelter, acquire food and water, reproduce and build populations; do not underestimate the importance of even a small garden.
- Practical benefits
- Use of native plants – hardy and drought-tolerant, disease/pest resistant, adapted to region so perform better under local conditions.
- Food for natural enemies – healthy butterfly populations attract and sustain healthy populations of beneficial insects/organisms as well as provide food for birds, lizards, mammals, etc. which in turn help control garden pests; most butterfly nectar sources also attract beneficial insects.
- Plant diversity – less susceptible to pests/individual plants less apparent in landscape; large number of microclimates provide home and shelter for other insects including beneficial insects.
- Scientific – keeping detailed logs on the butterfly species encountered, times, abundance can provide important and useful information on butterfly population numbers nationwide.
- Therapeutic – provide soothing retreat from every day life
- Herbs – most herbs are also excellent butterfly attractants; useful culinary plants and provide wonderful aromatherapy.
Source: Jaret C. Daniels
7953 SW 47th Ct.
Gainesville, FL 32608
FLORIDA PLANTS AND FLOWERS FOR BUTTERFLIES
Cape Sable Whiteweed, Ageratum iittoraie N
Climbing Aster, Aster carolinianus N
Browne’s Blechum, Blechum pyramidatum H
False Nettle, Boehmeria cylindrica H
American Beautyberry, Callicarpa americana N
Partridge Pea, Chamaecrista fasciculata H
Florida Fiddlewood, Citharexylum spinosum N
Blue Mistflower, Conoclinium coelestinum N
Curacao Bush, Cordia globosa H
Golden Dewdrops, Duranta erecta N
Coastal Mock Vervain, Glandularia maritima N
Firebush, Hamelia patens N
Railroad Vine, Ipomoea pes-caprae N
Shrub Verbena, Lantana depressa N
Buttonsage, Lantana involucrata N
Southern Bayberry (Wax Myrtle), Myrica cerifera H
Corkystemed Passionflower, Passiflora suberasa H
Pentas, Pentas lanceolata N
Red Bay, Persea borbonia H
Florida Keys Blackbead, Pitheceliobium keyense H
Doctorbush (White Plumbago), Plumbago scandens N
Wild Coffee, Psychotria nervosa N
Live Oak, Quercus virginiana H
White Indigoberry, Randia aculeata H
Fogfruit (Capeweed), Rhyla nodiflora N
Cabbage Palm (Sabal Palm), Sabal palmatto N
Privet Wild Sensitive Plant, Senna ligustrina H
Chapman’s Wild Sensitive Plant, Senna mexicana H
Yellow Necklacepod, Sophora tomentosa H
Nettleleaf Velvetberry (Porterweed), Stachytarpheta urticifolia N
Wild Lime, Zanthoxylum fagara H
HERBS FOR BUTTERFLIES
Yarrow, Achillea spp.
Anise Hyssop, Agastache foeniculum
Elephant Garlic, Allium ampeloprasum
Chives, Allium schoenoprasum
Dill, Anethum graveolens
Angelica, Angelica spp.
Wild Celery, Apium graveolens
Dogbane, Apocynum cannabinum
Caraway, Carum carvi
New Jersey Tea, Ceanothus americanus
Queen Anne’s Lace, Daucus carota
Purple Coneflower, Echinacea purpurea
Eupatorium, Eupatorium spp.
Fennel, Foeniculum vulgare
Cow Parsnip, Heracleum spp.
Hyssop, Hyssop officinalis
Lavender, Lavedula spp.
Lovage, Levisticum officinale
Mints, Mentha spp.
Bee Balm, Mondara didyma
Wild Bergamot, Monarda fistulosa
Horsemint, Monarda punctata
Basil, Ocimum spp.
Oregano, Origanum spp.
Parsley, Petroselinum crispum
Anise, Pimpinella anisum
Plantain, Plantago spp.
Rosemary, Rosmarinus spp.
Scarlet Sage, Salvia cocinea
Pineapple Sage, Salvia elegans
Virginia Skullcap, Scutellaria laterifolia
Thyme, Thymus spp.
Culver’s Root, Veronicastrum virginicum
Chaste Tree, Vitex agnus-castus
Sources (“As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.”): GARDENING FOR FLORIDA’S BUTTERFLYS; FLORIDA BUTTERFLY GARDENING; FLORIDA BUTTERFLY CATERPILLARS AND THEIR HOST PLANTS