Transform your garden into a butterfly haven
With their beautiful markings and delicate wings, butterflies add a colourful burst of interest to the garden. Britain alone has 59 resident species of butterfly, but with these numbers rapidly declining it’s now more important than ever to encourage these wonderful creatures into your outdoor space. You can attract a flutter (or kaleidoscope, as the correct term is) of butterflies by following these simple tips…
Plant some beautiful flowers
The good news is that butterflies love all kinds of flowers so you have plenty to choose from when planting seeds and shoots. Butterflies are first drawn to flowers by their colour so mix things up a bit and grow an eclectic, rainbow wildflower meadow. If you have a smaller garden you can still attract butterflies by planting flowers in a window box or patio pots. Lavender, Verbena and Scabious plants are just a few of the favourites although there are plenty more.
Pick the right planting spots
Like us, butterflies seek warmth so sunny, sheltered spots are ideal when planting nectar flowers. Avoid overcrowding your garden with light-blocking fencing or sculptures so that butterflies feel especially welcome. Many plants thrive better in these sunny spots too offering perfect photo opportunities.
Keep the garden blossoming year-round
The colder months don’t have to cast a grey glow on your garden. Choose from a range of suitable flowers that blossom all year round, from March until the colder, frosty weather kicks in and ends the butterfly season in October and November. Spring flowers are vital for those coming out of hibernation, whilst autumn flowers are necessary in helping butterflies build their reserves for winter. Simple plants such as Thistles, Ivy and certain herbs have been known to attract butterflies when other plants are out of season.
Cater for caterpillars
Many people forget about the caterpillar stage of butterflies. You can help increase butterfly numbers by planting Holly and Ivy bushes, among other food plants, to cater for caterpillars. The presence of caterpillars will provide more security for butterflies laying eggs.
Leave fallen fruit under fruit trees
As summer starts to merge into autumn, some butterfly species such as red admiral and painted lady, are known to feed on the fruit juices of fallen fruit. If you have a fruit tree in your garden, leave some of the over-ripe pears, plums or apples scattered on the ground as a sweet treat for butterflies to enjoy.
Say no to insecticides
Any gardener will understand the pain of losing some of their best crop or plants to insects, but insecticides and pesticides are also poisonous to butterflies. Invite pollinating insects into your garden safely by banning chemical products.
Why not keep a record of the beautiful butterflies passing through your garden? Share your pictures with us on Twitter @best4hedging.