How To Create A Garden For Butterflies

GreenWay is known around Canada as having a top selection of butterfly and hummingbird enticing plants.

Here are some tips to help make your garden “butterfly friendly.”greenway blooming centre closing for winter

  1. Plant your butterfly garden in a sunny location (5-6 hours sun each day), but sheltered from the winds. Learn which plants butterflies prefer and include shrubs such as chokeberry and willow which make great host plants, as well as the ever popular butterfly bush. Keep your plants moist at all times.
  2. Do not use any chemicals in or near your garden.  
  3. Provide a source of water for the butterflies.  Fill a bird bath, keep a mud puddle damp in a sunny location, or fill a container with sand and enough water to make the sand saturated.
  4. Choose high nectar producing annuals and perennials of all sizes and shapes. Place the same plants at different locations as butterflies like to feed on their favourite plants, while they move through a garden.
  5. Ensure you have perennials in bloom from early spring to late fall. Include annuals such as verbena, zinnia and tropical or scarlet milkweed which bloom all summer and are a constant source of nectar. That way you’ll be guaranteed to attract the very first butterflies in the spring and keep them around throughout the rest of the year.
  6. Butterflies use two different types of plants – those that provide nectar for the adults to eat (nectar plants), and those that provide food for their larvae or caterpillars (host plants). You need to have both types of plants in your garden to keep the butterflies around all year. Ask our staff for recommendations on what plants attract what butterflies or caterpillars.  
  7. Remember, the host plants are there for the caterpillar to eat. It’s to be expected that at times you’ll have half-eaten plants in your garden! This is a necessary part of their life cycle.
  8. Come visit us.  Whether you have space for a full garden, or just a planter on your deck or balcony, we can help you create a habitat for butterflies. Our Butterfly Garden is a unique and beautiful area, dedicated to the conservation of butterflies,hummingbirds and other pollinators.

Residents, not Guests

By providing host and nectar plants which bloom throughout the whole growing season, you can encourage the butterflies to become residents of your garden, not just visitors. For example, when the monarchs return from their winter rest in Mexico, early blooming perennials provide them with a source of nectar. At the same time the tender shoots of the milkweed plants are just starting to emerge and the monarch can then lay their eggs in your garden. Caterpillars hatch, chrysalis form and the life cycle begins again, all in your garden.

Contact us to learn more about how you can create a more butterfly-friendly garden or browse through our Plant Finder to choose the right plants today!

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