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Creating a Butterfly Garden


Did you know that butterflies are second only to bees for their ability to pollinate plants?

Are you aware that many butterflies are at risk because their “homes” are being cleared away by development?

If you want to entice these beautiful insects to use your garden as their new home, follow the tips below and you will be well on your way to creating a Butterfly Garden.

There are some key points to know.

1. You need to know the zone that you are gardening in. In Calgary, we are considered as a Zone 3A, however, different areas of the city and different microclimates in your garden can mean that you are gardening anything from a Zone 2b to Zone 4 or 5. So, a good rule of thumb is to try to choose perennial plants that are as hardy as possible.

2. Something that many people are not aware of, is that you need to provide larval food for the butterfly when it is in its caterpillar stage. Some examples of caterpillar food include: milkweed, nettles, and thistles . The problem is that caterpillar plants often do not get planted as they are only considered as weeds. But if you plant some of these “weeds” in your garden, you will encourage the butterflies to come back year after year.

3. Next you need to plant flowers for the butterfly to enjoy the nectar. Different colours and nectars attract different butterflies. By providing a variety of plants that will bloom from May-Sept , you will attract these beautiful winged insects to your yard all summer long. Some examples of perennial butterfly flowers and the zones they are hardy in include:
Zone 2 – Dianthus, Echinops (Globe Thistle), Yarrow
Zone 3 – Bee Balm, Black Eyed Susan (Rudbeckia), Purple Cone Flower (Echinacea). Lilac bushes, Queen Anne’s Lace

4. Choose an area that gets some sunlight (at least 5 hours/day). Butterflies love to sun themselves, so place a nice rock (which will absorb the heat from the sun) to provide a warm resting spot. Also ensure the area is sheltered from the wind. Butterflies do not like to fight the wind when they are trying to get nectar from the flowers.

5. Butterflies need water which can be easily provided by making mudholes or using containers with water (dump out regularly so that it does not provide a home for mosquitos!).

Now, as the saying goes, if you entice the butterflies into your backyard, you should be aware that you may also be attracting other little winged visitors known as “faeries”. Faeries adore many of the same things that butterflies do. They are attracted to brightly coloured plants, they love to sun themselves, and they like to be sheltered from the wind. May the butterflies (and the faeries) provide you with great company all summer long! Happy Gardening. Here is a link from the David Suzuki Foundation on creating a butterfly garden as well:

Sending sunshine and faery magic,

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