Butterflies in the Garden


Who doesn’t love to have in the garden?  Those marvellous vibrantly coloured insects with their fragile wings are a delight to watch.  However, you need to be careful if you have cats or puppies as they just love to chase them and unfortunately, they often catch and kill them.

To attract butterflies you need to choose for butterflies, not necessarily plants for you.  Hopefully you both like the same varieties, but butterflies are only attracted to nectar rich flowers and not all varieties of butterflies are attracted to the same plants.  You also need to provide plants to support the butterfly throughout its lifecycle.

Butterflies do recognise colour, so large plantings of the same of the same flowers that attract butterflies will work best.  Some butterflies are attracted to weeds so if you have a meadow or some uncultivated part of your garden, that might be suitable.

Some common plants that attract butterflies are of course Buddleia (Butterfly Bush) as well as Honeysuckle, Vibernum, Lilac, Lavender, Lantana, Azalea, Cornflower, Lupin, Verbena, Violet, Snapdragon and Hollyhock.  Herbs too, such as Mint, Sage, Parsley and Oregano attract butterflies.  This list is by no means exhaustive, just includes those plants which most people will recognise – there are dozens more so research is necessary to find out which plants attract your local butterfly population.

Most people probably don’t really like the idea of encouraging caterpillars but the butterfly needs to be supported through its larvae stage as well.  While larvae eat a huge amount very quickly, they only do so for a very short time so damage to plants is minimal.

It’s not only plants that attract butterflies but water too.  A birdbath or some other raised bowl be ideal, preferably out of easy reach of cats, dogs and children.

Another factor for butterflies in the garden is sunlight as sun loving flowers attract more butterflies.  However, butterflies also need shade, not only from the sun but from wind and rain as well.

One last word of warning if you want butterflies in the garden and that is go easy on the pesticides as butterflies are easily killed by them.  Try a dilute solution of washing up liquid and removing infected foliage if you have trouble with plant pests and diseases.

Liz Canham is a keen gardener who has exchanged the relative ease of gardening in Southern England for the trials of gardening on the Costa Blanca in Spain, where her garden is at a 45% angle on the side of a mountain. To take advantage of her experience visit her website, Gardening for All and get some great gardening tips.

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