I've been trying to find more ways to get Mini outside and more involved in the world around her. She's afraid of all flying things and I thought having a Monarch Butterfly Garden would be a great way to show her that all flying things are not bad. After a little research I figured out how to have a successful monarch butterfly garden.
Having a variety of plants and other features that welcome the beautiful winged wonders in and provide for a variety of their needs. This is the cornerstone of a successful monarch butterfly garden and I am going tell you how to have your own monarch garden that will be joy to grow and watch. The Monarch population has been in trouble for years and every garden that is planted to help reestablish them is making a difference.
Successful Monarch Butterfly Garden
The first thing you are going to need for your garden is-plants! A lot of plants, a common problem people run into is that they set out a few plants, the butterflies come and lay eggs as we wish and them bam! The caterpillars devour the leaves until before you know it there is nothing left but a few green sticks coming out of the dirt. This is what we want but if you don't plant enough then you will have sparse gardens and hungry cats in no time!
Milkweed-There are about 30 different varieties that Monarchs use and this is the essential plant for Monarchs. It is a great nectar source for butterflies who also lay their eggs on the leaves, monarch caterpillars use this as their only food source. If you want to get started with seeds you can get a free package from Monarch Watch or other online seed companies, otherwise you can find a local nursery who offers established plants.
Other Native Plants– Add in lots of other plants that are native to your area, the more varied and inviting your garden is the more butterflies you can hope to attract. While Monarch caterpillars as I said do require Milkweed the butterflies gather nectar and are attracted to many plants. A few you might add are- Salvia, Butterfly Bush , Black-eyed Susan, and Daisies.
Place your garden in the full sun because butterflies love to rest basking in the sun! Newly emerged from their cocoon they like to dry their wings and most flowering plants prefer full sun so for best results plant accordingly.
Another thing to consider is a windbreak to help shelter them, this can come in the form of a privacy fence, trees, or bushes. This is a very attractive feature to monarchs and will make your yard a hot property on the Monarch market.
Provide several sources of water for your butterflies- bird feeders, shallow dishes on the ground, sealed terra cotta pots suspended in the tree, etc… Butterflies do something called puddling to drink- the land in a very shallow spot and gather water- places like a shallow rain puddle so you want to create something as close to that as possible, I add flat rocks to my bird feeders to provide a place for them to land, keeping them partially but no completely submerged in the water.
Add Fruit, hanging in trees, on dishes…Butterflies love to snack on slices of fruit that is beginning to go bad- bananas, strawberries, oranges, and peaches are favorites.
Go Organic -Do not use pesticides on or anywhere near your Monarch Garden. The effects are disastorous and is a big part of the reason they are in trouble. Caterpillars whither away and many butterflies come out with underdeveloped wings and are unable to fly.
Be sure to check out 7 Reasons why Butterflies Avoid your Yard to encourage more varieties of butterflies to join your garden.