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Planting a Butterfly Garden

butterflies category: Articles and Instructions category: Garden Resources category: Insects Pests and Diseases garden-wisdom how-to-grow pollinators

The plight of the Monarch butterfly has been a big news item in recent times. Just look up “monarch butterfly” on Youtube, and you’ll find scores of videos aimed at Monarch conservation. The Monarch is unusual due to its remarkable migration route between south central Canada and the hilltops west of Mexico City. For years the governments of Ontario and Quebec, and the midwestern states sought to eradicate various types of milkweed that were thought to be noxious weeds. And then it turned out that these plants are essential food plants for the Monarch. Not only do the adults feed on the nectar-rich flowers, but their caterpillars absolutely depend on the foliage as a food source. Other plants will not support Monarch caterpillars. Happily, there has been a major initiative to replant milkweed species across North America.

All butterfly species, like their cousins the bees, are under threat due to habitat loss. Without food, how can these beautiful insects survive?

We are passionate about pollinator conservation at West Coast Seeds. Not only does our food supply depend on pollinators, but our ecosystem does as well. We encourage you to plant part of your garden or farm with species that are particularly attractive to butterflies. We’ve talked about Planting a Bumblebee Garden, and Planting to Attract Predatory Insects, but what about planting a butterfly garden?

First of all, a selection of flowering plants that are particularly rich in nectar is key. Some species are highly regarded as food sources for caterpillars, so that’s also a consideration. Butterflies do not nest, so there is no point in erecting shelters for them — they will go unused. However, butterflies do take time to bask in the sun, and to take water from moist soil. So leaving a small area with exposed, damp soil surrounded by rocks that will warm in the sun might be a good idea.

Here are some of our favourite flowers for planting a butterfly garden:

Agastache Flowers for Bees
Licorice Mint
Agastache rugosa

Graceland Ammi Seeds FL2052-3
False Queen Anne’s Lace
Ammi majus

Showy Milkweed Seeds
Showy Milkweed
Asclepias speciosa

Butterfly Bush Bulbs BU240-1
Butterfly Milkweed
Asclepias tuberosum

Basket of Gold Alyssum Aurinia saxatilis Seeds FL3820-2
Basket of Gold
Aurinia saxatilis

Blooming Centaurea seeds - Cornflowers FL2187 F
Centaurea cyanus

how to grow wallflowers Lollipop Wallflower Seeds FL3426-1
Wallflower Cheiranthus cheiri

Cosmos Seeds
Cosmos bipinnatus

Bright Lights
Sulphur Cosmos
Cosmos sulphureus

Cat Grass Seeds CC100
Cat Grass
Dactylis glommerata

How to Grow Dianthus
Dianthus plumarius

Echinacea Seeds
Echinacea purpurea

Joe Pye Weed Seeds
Joe Pye Weed
Eutrochium purpureum

Gaillardia Goblin Rhizomes
Gaillardia pulchella

Bird's Eyes Gilia Seeds
Birds Eye Gilia
Gilia tricolor

Iberis Seeds
Iberis umbellata

Lobularia maritima

Lupin Seeds
Lupinus polyphyllus

Wild Bergamot
Wild Bergamot
Mondarda fistulosa

Pale Evening Primrose Oenothera Seeds FL3821
Pale Evening Primrose
Oenothera pallida

Ratibida Prairie Coneflower Seeds
Prairie Coneflower
Ratibida columnifera

Black-Eyed Susan
Rudbeckia hirta

Scabiosa Seeds
Pincushion Plant
Scabiosa atropurpurea

Veronica Seeds
Veronica spicata

Sultane Strawflowers Seeds
Xerochrysum bracteatum

Zinnia elegans

A simpler option is to plant some of our Butterfly Blend Wildflower Seeds.

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