Butterflies are beautiful insects and fascinating to watch. The purpose of butterfly gardening is to produce an outdoor space that attracts butterflies. Who doesn’t enjoy seeing fluttering about in their garden? Butterflies feed on nectar and there are many nectar-producing plants that will help attract butterflies. You can also provide a place for butterflies to rest and create an area for puddling. This is a interesting behaviour that occurs in other insects as well as butterflies. In involves insects sucking up fluid from rotting plant matter, ensuring they get the minerals they need. Read on to find out more about creating a butterfly garden that will be sure to thrive!
Importance of Butterfly Conservation
Putting time into creating a butterfly garden can in turn contribute to increasing the butterfly population, which has been on the decline in the UK since 1976. A lot of this is down to destruction of natural habitats due to urbanisation. Butterfly species have also struggled to cope with changing climates.
Butterflies are widely considered an indicator of environmental health; their decline is of great concern to charities like Butterfly Conservation. Taking small steps such as starting a butterfly garden helps increase the chance of native species surviving these severe changes in environment. You never know – your butterfly garden might contribute to stopping the extinction of a certain endangered species!
Butterflies are insects and therefore, as you may have guessed, are not fans of insecticides and pesticides. As creating a butterfly garden is a contribution to the conservation of their species in itself, it is best paired with going organic. Chemicals like pesticides are toxic to butterflies. Additionally laying off from using them will mean the population of beneficial insects in your garden will grow.
There are plenty of ways to rid of pests using biological methods that will not harm butterflies and any other beneficial insects. You can find out more about going organic in your garden in our blog post here.
Butterfly Species Native to the UK
Knowing which butterflies are native to your area is essential when creating a butterfly garden. It will help you know what species of plants you should plant, as well as aid you in the identification of the butterflies that visit your garden. Common butterflies you might see in the UK include
- Holly blue
- Speckled Wood
- Red Admiral
- Orange Tip
What to Plant in a Butterfly Garden
The plants that are most likely to attract butterflies are ones whose flowers produce nectar and pollen in abundance. Choosing a variety of different plants like this will allow different species of butterfly to pick and choose their preferred nectar. Plants that attract butterflies include lavender, butterfly bush, daylily and vervain. Other wildflowers and old-fashioned flowers will also attract butterflies. Plant a diverse range of plants that bloom throughout each season. This allows butterflies access to pollen and nectar all year round.
It is also important to plant host plants for butterflies to home their caterpillars. Vegetable plants and herbs work best for this. These will also provide a food source for caterpillars when they hatch. Suitable plants include fennel, nettle, milkweed and thistle.
Food & Water for Butterflies
As with any creature, butterflies require food and water to survive. You can provide them with a water source by installing a bird bath. This in turn helps other wildlife such as birds. You could even plan out a water garden, which is a pond built for the purpose of housing aquatic plants. A more straightforward way to provide a water source is to dig a shallow hole, ensure it is damp and cover it with sand. This method also provides provide butterflies an area to puddle.
Butterflies’ main food source is nectar so planting nectar-producing plants will in turn provide them with food. In addition, butterflies enjoy the sugar from ripe fruit such as bananas or oranges. Place any fruit scraps on a shallow plate in the garden and cover with fruit juice to prevent it drying up. If you have any fruit trees outside, resist picking up and composting the rotting fruit. Leave it out for butterflies to feast on.
Butterfly watching is a fascinating and enjoyable pastime which can also be a very mindful experience. Watch out your window, or take a seat outside, whatever you prefer. Quietly watch whilst butterflies fly from flower to flower and feed on nectar. Admire their beautiful wings whilst observing them resting as they recharge after expending energy flying. Butterfly watching is one of the joys that comes with creating a butterfly garden right on your doorstep.
Overall, creating a butterfly garden is a truly rewarding experience. You are sure to enjoy admiring the diverse range of species that it will bring to your garden. Furthermore you will be contributing to the conservation of UK butterflies and helping the environment, which is definitely as plus!
Megan works in the Primrose marketing team. When she is not at her desk you will find her half way up a hill in the Chilterns
or enjoying the latest thriller series on Netflix. Megan also enjoys cooking vegetarian feasts with veggies from her auntie’s vegetable garden.