Butterflies feed on the sweet nectar of flowers, so including them in your garden is a prerequisite. Though several flowers produce nectar for attracting pollinating agents, these graceful insects prefer feeding on specific groups of plants. One more thing is, the female butterflies lay their eggs in specific host plants, which the newly hatched caterpillars can feed on as they grow. Hence, you should plant these host plants too in your garden.
The second step is deciding the actual garden layout. For this, select the garden site and finalize the area size. As butterflies are cold blooded and require basking in the sun, you should preferably start a butterfly garden in sunlit areas. Based on how large the area is, you can make flower beds, keep room for ground covers, maintain trellis to separate garden sections and plant hedges.
The third step involves choosing plant cultivars. This is a crucial task, and the functionality of your garden largely depends on what types of plants you choose. You will find a long list of butterfly garden flowers, which are native to your region. If interested, make a brief research about the commonly found butterflies and their preferred plants. Examples of flowers that attract butterflies include asclepias, azaleas, buddleias, daylilies, coneflower, lilacs, butterfly bush, milkweed, etc.
After careful selection of butterfly garden plants, check for their availability in your local nursery center. You can purchase viable seeds, healthy saplings and starter plants for introducing in your garden. Follow the gardening basics suggested for each variety to grow healthy plants. It is best to grow varieties of plants, which differ in their blooming period. The logic is to maintain colorful flowers throughout the year, so that you can enjoy watching butterflies all the year round.
Making puddles is optional, and you can skip this step according to your convenience. In natural habitats, male butterflies are often found gathering in small puddles. You can create the same natural effect by placing a few plastic buckets at the edges of your garden. Fill them with sand and gravel, and pour plain water or sweet liquid over the gravel. This will surely help in luring butterflies to your yard.
While maintaining a butterfly garden, stringent care should be taken for providing a suitable environment for butterflies. You can place some basking rocks in the rim of your garden. Anything that can deter these flies should be avoided. Like for instance, minimize the use of chemical pesticides and insecticides. Rather opt for cultural ways to control unwanted pests and diseases. Last but not the least, arrange for garden components to minimize wind effects.
Setting up a butterfly garden is really an interesting hobby. You can spend some relaxing time watching these colorful, winged insects. Also, by maintaining a butterfly garden, you are indirectly helping these colorful flies by providing habitats, which are reduced significantly due to human intervention.