Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Make Your Garden Fly!

A painted lady about to be released.
I think I have totally brainwashed my soon-to-be-four-year-old daughter. My gardening obsession seems to have rubbed off on her. She loves plants, and can even identify a few of her favorites, like bleeding hearts, ferns, and purple coneflowers. She tries to protect dandelions from my attacking cobra-head weeder. And, she loves worms.

But what really gets her excited in the garden are butterflies. My best pal bought her a netted butterfly cage for her birthday last year, and she learned a lot about the growth cycle of the painted lady butterfly. After that, she was hooked, and so excited to see the first butterfly of the season, the cabbage white. Watching her chase them sure brings back memories of my own childhood!

Monarchs also like sunflowers!
You can do a few things to encourage butterflies to make your yard home. It's important to include plants that feed adult butterflies, but also host plants, where butterflies lay their eggs and from which catepillars eat. For example, say you want to attract our state butterfly, the monarch. Plant lantana, goldenrods, and blazing stars for nectar, and milkweed for caterpillar food. And steer clear of the pesticides. Yes, they kill the bad bugs, but also the good ones.

Since peak butterfly months are July and August, you still have time to add a butterfly garden to your yard. And if you need someone to design it for you, I might know a landscape designer...

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