When we’re out and about filming and recording, we see plenty of butterflies. So how can you attract them to your garden?
Attracting butterflies involves growing plants that meet the needs of all life stages of the butterfly. The insects need places to lay eggs, food plants for their larvae (caterpillars), places to form chrysalides and nectar sources for adults.
If you don’t “grow” caterpillars, there will be no adults. Bringing caterpillar food plants into your garden hugely increase the likelihood of attracting an array of butterflies, giving us all another opportunity to plant an increasing variety of plants. I often say the key to wildlife gardening is starting with plant diversity. Caterpillars often feed on limited varieties of plants, rarely causing the leaf damage to our prized plants. My observation is many eggs are laid and caterpillars emerge on the stems of long grass, but Wisteria, Willow, Holly & Ivy, Plum, Alder, Sycamore, Vetches, Legumes, Thistles, Honeysuckle , Mallows, Nettles, Mistletoe and Lupins are all differing caterpillar hosts.
Butterflies are attracted to red, yellow, orange, pink and purple colours that are open and flat in nature, or very short tubular flowers. Butterflies need nectar ongoing throughout their lifespan. So planting a succession of flowering plants that follow on from each other, gives us gardeners some ongoing colour to enjoy too. Plants should receive full sun from mid-morning to mid-afternoon as butterflies often feed only in the warming sun.
Butterflies require sun to warm their wings so having bare soil or flat stones in your garden is a good as it provides space for butterflies to sunbath a bit.
Butterflies often gather in the wet puddles around the edges of ponds, they are maybe extracting minerals from damp puddles so don’t fill your wildlife garden with plants to the brim. Bare soil is important on so many levels as I have explained, even if rather briefly.
Good plants to attract butterflies with: Verbena Bonariensis, Lavender, Marjoram, Buddleia, Perennial Wallflower, Hebe, Phlox, Chives, Thyme, Catmint, Golden Rod, Senecio and Sea Holly.
Plenty for you to be getting on with there then!