Butterfly garden tips and ideas
Ivy League Landscape owner Robert Ritter and I were discussing the finer point of butterfly gardening when he explained these gardens were special in the tropical paradise of Costa Rica where he grew up.
"It was exciting ralizing we in fact had a ecologiacsl laboratory right in our yard with all kinds of insents and tropical planst, ' Robert said..
One of my more enriching experiences was helping the University Florida of Entomology & Nematology department bring their butterfly garden back to life after many years of neglect. The project turned into a special volunteer exercise with department staff, faculty and students working very hard on weekends diagramming the garden layout, restoring the soil and replanting a host of native Florida butterfly plants for a spectacular window on a butterfly's life cycle.
All right GLOBers, the planning stage took several days preparing an outline of a four step process we crafted for an ongoing, exciting, educational experience. Below I offer a brief outline to get you started on your own butterfly garden. I have also included several web links to more detailed information you might need as we travel this odyssey to home bound butterfly beauty:
I . BUTTERFLY GARDEN LOCATION: Florida boasts over 180 different butterflies, you can't attract species that do not naturally occur in your region, nor can you grow plants that aren't adapted to the soils and climate in your region. FOLLOW THESE STEPS to planning your garden.
WHETHER CONFINED to a patio container or sprawled over several acres, a butterfly garden can be as simple or as complex as you wish to make it. The same basic concepts apply, regardless of the size. The most important thing to understand is that different butterfly species have different requirements, and these requirements change throughout their life cycles. A well-planned butterfly garden should appeal to many different butterflies and also cater to both the adults and their larvae (caterpillars). Proper garden design and choice of plants are essential. Such decisions will help influence which butterflies are attracted, remain in the area, and reproduce there.
II . Garden soil. To be matter-of-fact Farmer Bubba Scott who wrote many columns on gardening and growing plants says it very clearly in his bringing the farm home column: You have to start with good soil, nutrient base in your garden to grow happy, healthy plants:
MOST EVERYONE has started a garden at some time or other, but I wonder how many people really compost? Just like growing a garden, composting successfully takes work. And to make the work easier, I'm going to show you how to keep it simple. How can you tell good compost? The more happy, lunching out earthworms you find, the better.
Think of composting like eating a meal. Say you're eating lunch at a spot recently recommend in the GLOB. If you eat something light, like a good hearty salad, you'll feel like going back to work. A light meal will be digested faster than a heavier meal like, say, a burger and fries. The heavier meal will stay with you awhile. In some cases, a long while. The light meal would be aerobic composting and the heavy meal would be anaerobic composting.
III . Garden Plants. For your Butterfly Garden to thrive and be successful, and your butterflies to stay in your garden there are two different kind oF butterfly plants necessary to accommodate a butterfly life cycle:
BUTTERFLY HOST PLANTS: Host plants are the nurseries of the garden. If you keep an eye out you'll see the female as she flits around the plant, gently laying her next brood's eggs, sometimes on the top of leaves but usually on the bottom, hidden from predators. Then, in 10 to 14 days, the tiny larvae, less than an eighth inch long, emerge and begin eating the plant. It's a fascinating process as they munch away, growing larger every day. Equally fascinating is watching the caterpillar leave the plant to form a chrysalis. FOLLOW THIS LINK for butterfly garden host plants.
BUTTERFLY NECTAR PLANTS: Of the two types of plants you'll need to attract butterflies to your garden, nectar plants usually get top billing. And why not? They add color, style and beauty to your garden while providing the food most butterflies and other wildlife need to sustain life. For butterflies, presentation is everything so by grouping a number of the same nectar plants together you'll help butterflies see your scrumptious offering from a distance.
Some nectar plants have the reputation of being favorites to a wide variety of butterflies – plants such as Coneflower, Butterfly Bush, Tall Verbena and Lantana, to name a few specific plants, make it easier for the butterfly to recognize their favorite nectar plants, plus quickly locate the host plants to lay eggs for future butterfly generations You should consider planting nectar plants that are native to your area. FOLLOW THIS LINK for butterfly garden nectar plants.
IV. Butterflies. Native butterflies make excellent partners in your garden process. Every garden should have several milkweed host plants for the endangered Monarch Butterfly. The passion vine with beautiful, unique flowers is a popular vine to include in your garden along a fence line or up a tree limb.
The BBQ potato chip-looking Gulf Fritillary Agraulis vanillae butterfly uses the passion vine in sunlight to lay its eggs for future generations. The larger, multi-stripped Zebra Longwing Heliconius charitonia butterfly lays its eggs on the passion vine in shaded areas of your garden.
The Florida Museum's Butterfly Rainforest has daily sales of butterfly plants to assist in the funding of the Butterfly Raindorest. this is an excellent good place to start your butterfly plant hunting process. FOLLOW THIS LINK for the museum's Butterfly plant sales.
V . Garden Maintenance. To summarize a good garden watering schedule will keep the plants flourishing, and your garden will become a thriving, biologically diverse location to re-acquaint yourself with the magic of mother nature. The most common type of composting used by home gardeners is aerobic composting. The use of air to decompose garden waste. The other type is anaerobic, which keeps air out of the compost process. You cam FOLLOW THIS LINK for a very butterfly garden starter project for your very own butterfly Garden.
Ivy League Landscaping and Robert Ritter are the Buttergly garden experts. If you have any questions about gardening, or landscaping you can contact Robert Ritter for free information to get you and your buterfly garden up and flourishing this Fall.