Five Butterfly Attracting Plants For Your Garden

What could be better than sitting outside, enjoying your garden, while beautiful butterflies circle you? Everyone loves seeing butterflies with their colorful wings and smooth flying, but you don’t have to leave catching a glimpse of one up to chance. When you’re planning your garden, you can select your plants with butterflies in mind, so you attract them into your yard and can enjoy them at any time. There are hundreds of plants and flowers that butterflies love, so you have plenty of options for choosing plants that not only bring in butterflies but give your garden a look you are after. These five plants, however, are especially useful for bringing butterflies to your backyard.

First, before you start selecting your butterfly garden plants, there are a few basics you should keep in mind. Butterflies tend to be most active in the mid summertime, so choosing plants that bloom is ideal. You want to pick plants that produce a lot of nectar – this will keep many different colonies of butterflies passing through your garden. Plants that require full sun are the best choice – butterflies prefer to stay in the sun in this way and don’t tend to go in the shade to feed. Above all else, remember to avoid using any chemicals on your plants. Chemicals like pesticides and insecticides are toxic to butterflies, so you’ll end up killing the creatures you want to attract.

There are hundreds of options for a butterfly-attracting garden. Five plants you should make a priority are Butterfly Weed (Asclepias tuberosa), Butterfly Bush (Buddleia davidii), Butterfly Lily (Hedychium coronarium), Butterfly Peas (Clitoria ternatea) and Passion Flower (Passiflora incarnate). These flowers are all favorites of butterflies and have shown themselves time and time again to be ideal for a butterfly garden. They are all perennial flowers.

The five plants listed above may have a proven track record of being top butterfly attractions, but that doesn’t mean they are right for your garden. When you are picking your plants as a priority, you have to choose plants that thrive in your geographic region. Weather conditions are a paramount consideration – even if a plant does an excellent job of attracting butterflies, if it doesn’t grow well where you live, you will be fighting a losing battle. Any gardening center or greenhouse in your town should be able to give you advice about the best butterfly plants to add to your garden for your area.

Another thing to keep in mind when planting a butterfly garden is that for maximum benefit, you don’t want, but you want to attract caterpillars as well. Caterpillars are the bane of many a gardener because they chew on your plants. However, from caterpillars come butterflies, so if you can attract the larvae and then the caterpillars to your garden, you will keep the butterflies…

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Attracting Natural Insect Predators to Control Garden Pests

In the world of animals, there are carnivores (predators) and herbivores. The carnivores are meat eating, and feed on the herbivores. The same happens in the insect world, and we can use this strategy to naturally control pests in our vegetable gardens. Insect predators eat other insects.

What are Beneficial Insect Predators?

Examples of beneficial insect predators that feed on crop pests include ladybugs, lacewing bugs, spiders, wasps, certain mites, damsel bugs and many others. There are ways of attracting these insect predators to our gardens.

One of these is to create an insectary by using a diverse range of predator attracting plants.The garden insectary is a type of “companion planting”. By planting a wide range of plants you can provide alternative food sources (such as nectar and pollen, required by many predators as part of their diet) as well as habitat and shelter. For example, you can control aphids by attracting an aphid-specific predator such as Aphidius by planting lupins or sunflowers. Your insectary only needs to be big enough to hold six to seven varieties of plants that attract insects. Once these plants have matured, your beneficial insects will efficiently take over the insect pest control in your vegetable and fruit garden for you.

Tips for Setting up Your Insectary

  1. Members of the carrot family (wild carrot, dill, coriander, fennel and angelica) are all excellent insectary plants. They all produce tiny flowers which are required by parasitoid wasps. Large nectar-filled flowers can drown these tiny parasitoid wasps.
  2. Grow plants of various heights in your insectary: lace wings lay their eggs in protected, shady areas. Ground beetles like the cover from low growing plants such as mint, thyme or rosemary
  3. Flowers such as daisies and mint-like plants such as peppermint, spearmint etc will attract robber flies, hover flies and predatory wasps.
  4. Plant insectary annuals between your vegetable beds. This will lure beneficial insects as well as adding a touch of decoration to your garden.
  5. Let some of your vegetables grow to flower (carrots, broccoli, brussel sprouts, cabbage, bok choy etc).

Other Great Insectary Plants

Good insectary plants not already mentioned include the following:

  • Alyssum
  • Amaranthus
  • Convolvulus
  • Cosmos
  • Daucus carota (Queen Anne’s Lace)
  • Digitalis
  • Limonium (Statice)
  • Lemon balm
  • Parsley
  • Peonies
  • Verbascum thaspus

A garden insectary should be a permanent component of all gardens. The longer your insectary is in place, the more effective it will be as insects get to know a place that provides food, shelter and above all, a source of nearby food. Results are cumulative. As your plantings mature and resident populations of beneficial insects are established, the need for toxic chemical pesticides will diminish. Your garden will become a more natural and balanced environment for the production of healthy vegetables and flowers.…

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