It's easy to know when spring is upon us, the trees return to their lush green color and start to bloom, flowers shoot up from the ground opening their petals to the sunshine, birds return to the area and fill the air with birdsong, and baby animals start to appear in the bushes, and butterflies come back. It's easy to attract these beautiful and interesting butterflies and monarchs to your garden. All you need to do to start is have plants that feed caterpillars and adult butterflies, but if you want to create a sanctuary for these flying beauties you'll need some simple plans for your garden.

By planning what plants you'll bring into your garden will help to encourage butterflies to stick around, laying eggs and creating new generations. To do that you'll need to choose a combination of plants that are nectar plants, and caterpillar 'host' plants, which will feed the adult butterflies and young caterpillars. These two groups will provide an entire life cycle of food for the butterflies in your garden.

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Nectar plants are plants that have bright blooms, almost all flower bearing plants are nectar plants, but the ones that work best for butterflies are Purple Coneflower, New England Aster, and the appropriately named Butterfly weed. Four more good nectar plants are Milkweed, Marigold, Oregano, and Butterfly Bush. The more diverse types of flowers you plant the more butterflies you'll attract.

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Next you'll want to have some caterpillar plants for the babies to munch on. These you need to be prepared are going to be eaten. However that's what they are going to be planted for! To avoid a 'bug-eaten' garden, you may want to plant these plants in areas that will not be very visible. These plants are also called "Host Plants". Alfalfa, Clover, Deer-weed, Hollyhock, Mustard plants, Fennel, Dill, Sunflower, Cabbage, Milkweed, Thistle, Hops, Nettles (Careful these sting!), Wild Licorice, Pansy, Choke-berry, Snapdragon, Toadflax.. There are hundreds of host plants out there, but these are the ones that will be the safest for your growing caterpillars.

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Now you have the plants, the best place to plant them would be an area that will be shaded at some parts during the day, such as tree shade, but not totally covered as not to get sun. Dew collected on the leaves should be enough to 'water' your butterflies. 

 

Edited by Simon Leufstedt
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