Saturday, May 7, 2011
How to Build a Butterfly Garden
The sun is shining, the nurseries are buzzing with gardeners, and more than a hundred species of butterflies are starting to spread their wings in Maryland. Not only are these creatures beautiful and friendly; they are also important pollinators for plants and crops. Welcoming them into your garden is an easy and rewarding hobby. Here are a few tips for building a butterfly garden or amending an existing garden to attract local butterflies.
What Butterflies Look For:
Sunshine - At least five hours of it each day.
Water - Ideally a muddy puddle but a bird bath should do.
Warmth - Rocks or a warm surface to rest on cloudy and cold days are a must.
Particular Plants - Some for laying eggs. Some for nectar. Some for caterpillar food. And some to protect them from wind (details below)
Great Butterfly Plants for (and native to) Maryland:
Joe-Pye Weed (Eupatorium sp.)
Black-Eyed Susan (Rudbeckia hirta)Purple Coneflower (Echinacea purpurea)
Milkweed or Butterflyweed (Asclepias sp.)Speedwell or Ironweed (Veronica sp.)Zinnia (Zinnia elegans)
Great Nectar and/or Larval Hosts:
Annual and Perennial Flowers
Asters (Aster sp.)
Cosmos (Cosmos sp.)
Daisy (Leucanthemum sp.)
Goldenrod (Solidago sp.)
Phlox (Phlox sp.)
Trees and Shrubs
Blackberry (Ribes sp.)
Buttonbush (Cephalanthus occidentalis)
Poplar (Liriodendron tulipifera)
White Oak (Quercus alba)
Viburnum (Viburnum sp.)
Willow (Salix sp.)
Wild Cherry (Prumus serotina)
Black Locust (Robinia pseudoacacia)
You may have noticed that the well-known Butterfly Bush (Buddleia davidii), pictured in this post, is not on the recommended list above. This is because the popular plant has recently found its way to the invasive list. Luckily there are plenty of other native plants in these lists with large, colorful flowers that will bring just as many nectaring butterflies to your garden.
*Special thanks to the students and faculty, past and present, of the University of Maryland's Institute of Applied Agriculture for the informative brochure on butterfly gardens