Saturday, July 12, 2014

A Beacon for Butterflies... in YOUR Garden!

A Beacon for Butterflies…   in YOUR garden!

Butterflies adorn our gardens every summer in Wisconsin—but they don’t often appear if uninvited!   Our “invitations” are host plants that will attract different species of butterflies.   Providing vividly colored, nectar-rich flowers will entice adult butterflies to visit your garden… those flowers serve as a beacon for butterflies.   Females may wander into your garden, and if they encounter the kinds of plants they need for their offspring, females may lay eggs there.  A new generation could develop on your plants… in your backyard garden!

Examples of edible herbs that will satisfy the appetites of some butterfly species:   dill, parsley, fennel, nasturtium, anise and tarragon.   
Examples of nectar-rich herbs that will attract butterflies:   coneflowers, lavenders, mints, bee balms, sages, rosemary, oregano, and nasturtium.

Gardeners, don’t forget to provide some Wisconsin native plants when landscaping for caterpillars!   Local species have evolved with our native plants and are adapted to those natives.  All caterpillars will need “edibles” so you can plant a few of their favorites to assist in their development.

When shopping for perennials and annuals for your home garden, check each plant tag to verify whether that plant attracts butterflies. (Some plants are not considered “edibles” for humans, but can supply nectar sources for butterflies.)

Last week I found the lovely caterpillar (see photo) munching its way through my parsley patch; I plant plenty of parsley so I can share with these butterfly babies

To protect the butterflies in your locale, please don’t spray or spread insecticides unless absolutely critical for a specific insect infestation.   Include some native plantings in your garden design.    You might also provide some flat, smooth rocks within your garden space to encourage butterflies to linger and sun themselves.

NOTE:  At Lamm Gardens in Jackson, WI, we provide a butterfly habitat in our gardens.  The native milkweed plant shown here—an essential plant for Monarch butterfly reproduction—grows freely in our Lammscapes gardens.   Butterflies frequent our vibrantly colored gardens, and we gladly provide host plants to attract them throughout the season.

M. Lynn Schmid,   Certified Master Gardener
A.A.S. Landscape/Horticulture/Arboriculture