While birdwatching I often see some amazing butterflies and I know many other birders love seeing these beautiful insects. Gardening for butterflies is the art of growing plants that attract butterflies, while creating a garden that appeals to you as well.
While we were visiting the Kirstenbosch Gardens in Cape Town a while ago, we saw a whole section dedicated to creating a garden which welcomes butterflies. Below are some of the tips they recommend in order to get the butterflies to flock (flock? do butterflies flock? fly en masse…?) to your lawn. (technically the collective noun is a flight of butterflies).
Also read our previous article: Small Garden Enhancements to Attract Birds to Your Neighborhood
How to Attract Butterflies to your Garden
1. Choose a sunny, relatively wind-free spot in your garden; butterflies need sun to warm their flight muscles.
2. Find out which butterflies occur in your area and, which plants they choose to lay their eggs on (host plants/larval food plants), and which plants the butterflies like to feed on (nectar plants).
3. Plant a mixture of nectar and larval food plants.
4. Provide a few muddy patches for them, butterflies love drinking from damp soil around mud puddles, ponds and streams.
5. Leave out old fruit for them, they love the fermenting juices of decaying fruit.
6. Stop using pesticides! There are organic pesticides, or you can try mixing vinegar with lemon juice to make a weedkiller. A non-toxic pesticide can also be made by using a mixture of white sugar and hydrogen peroxide. Check out some excellent methods and advice here.
Enjoy watching and getting to know these beautiful creatures. Also look after the caterpillars; they aren’t pests that need to be killed. Think of caterpillars as butterflies in disguise.
Gardening for Birds and Butterflies Magazine
Click here , or the below images, to browse some of the most popular magazines on gardening for birds and butterflies:
Tips for Photographing Butterflies (or just to watch them)
The best time for butterfly photographing or watching is on sunny days in summer. Move slowly and fluidly, any rapid movements will chase them away. Wear brightly coloured clothing and keep still, one may even land on you. If you’re looking for some tips to improve your photography check out this great online photography course.
(Butterflies feed on nectar, and are attracted to nectar rich flowers like: scabious, buddleja, ganzania, vygies, freylinia, kniphofia, geranium, barleria, arctotis and many more).