May 29 2012

Create a Garden that Welcomes Nature’s Most Beautiful Insects: Butterflies

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Fly, fly, fly the butterfly…in the garden is flying low – nursery rhyme

 

Create a Garden that Welcomes Nature’s Most Beautiful Insects: Butterflies

LENEXA, Kan. May 29, 2012 — Kids love to chase them. Adults simply enjoy watching them. Every person young and old gets excited when one alights on a shoulder or outstretched hand. Butterflies are nature’s most beautiful, natural garden adornments. They add splashes of color and delicate movement. As their natural habitats disappear, there are several easy and fun ways to create a butterfly habitat in your backyard that will not only help them survive – but flourish.

Even for those without a green thumb, attracting butterflies to your backyard is as easy as providing what they need to survive. Creating a butterfly garden focuses on three key elements of their natural habitat: nectar plants, host plants and water source.

Advanced gardeners might incorporate these elements into a specific area of landscape or garden design. Novice gardeners might simply add some key plants to their yard. The idea is to create an inviting space for butterflies to visit, feed and bask in the sun, as well as to lay eggs and grow. Once you make a place for them, don’t forget to create a comfortable, peaceful place for you to enjoy them.

Nectar Plants

Butterflies are drawn to nectar plants which provide a good food source. Make sure to choose an array of these types of plants to ensure you attract the widest variety off butterflies to your garden.

  • Flowers with multiple florets, such as butterfly bush and butterfly weed, will be especially attractive to butterflies. Other favorite varieties include purple coneflower, New England aster, marigold, common dandelion, mist flower, oregano, common milkweed (favorite of Monarchs), white clover and zinnia.
  • Select flower varieties that bloom at various stages throughout the spring, summer and fall to attract butterflies for the longest period of time. Many garden centers offer plant groupings that cater specifically to butterfly gardening.
  • Butterflies are most populous in late summer and early fall, so be sure to include flower varieties that bloom at those times of the year.
  • Butterflies are sun lovers, so locate your garden where it will receive six or more hours of sunshine each day.
  • Butterfly feeders and butterfly nectar are an excellent alternative or supplement to your garden.

Host Plants

Creating an inviting area for butterflies to lay eggs and caterpillars to grow is as essential as feeding them.

  • Once hatched, caterpillars will eat their host plants, so expect the host plants to temporarily look as though they are being destroyed. Remember this is essential to a butterfly’s survival and the effect on the plants is temporary.
  • Plant your host plants in close proximity to nectar plants
  • Mix host plants and nectar plants of varying heights, with taller plant varieties in back and shorter plants in front.
  • NEVER use insecticide on host plants or nectar plants!
  • Common host plants preferred by butterflies include a variety of trees such as willow, elm, cottonwood and aspen, as well as mustard family plants such as alfalfa and clover, and milkweed.

Water Source

Butterflies not only drink nectar, they also require a water source.

  • Bird baths can be a beautiful addition to landscaping and are available in a variety of large and small structures.
  • If a relaxing fountain appeals to you, add one to your landscaping and butterflies will like it too.
  • Creating a “butterfly pond” by digging a shallow hole, adding a sand base, and regularly filling it with water is another great way to provide your favorite “flying flowers” with a water source.

Accessories

Take the extra step to create a beautiful and safe place for butterflies to thrive:

  • Butterfly houses resemble bird houses but with smaller openings.
  • Decorative butterfly feeders will brighten a garden and use homemade or commercially produced butterfly nectar.
  • Butterflies are especially attracted to bright colors resembling their favorite flowers – red and yellow.
  • Butterflies love to bask in sunlight, so include some large rocks in your garden. A good choice would be landscape rock found at your local garden center.

Enjoy the View

Once you’ve provided the butterflies with a special place to thrive, create a special place for you to sit and enjoy the colorful insects you attract. Choose a shaded area near the nectar and host plants and embellish it with pavers, a wind chime and pea gravel. Add a comfortable outdoor chair and a weatherproof side table that will accommodate a glass of lemonade, a butterfly guidebook and a camera.

For more information, visit your local Westlake Ace Hardware and speak to a lawn and garden specialist. Westlake offers a variety of nectar and host plants, butterfly garden seed varieties, butterfly feeders, bird baths, fountains and outdoor living accessories to create an attractive garden for butterflies.

About Westlake Ace Hardware

Westlake Ace Hardware was founded in 1905 and today operates 88 neighborhood hardware stores in Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska, Iowa, Oklahoma, Texas and New Mexico. Westlake is the largest member of the Ace Hardware Cooperative, giving the company access to over 70,000 items. Westlake product categories include traditional hardware categories such as fasteners, tools, plumbing and electric supplies and paint. Westlake also offers a wide range of lawn and garden products and operates large Garden Centers adjacent to many of its stores.

For more birding and gardening information, or to find the Westlake location nearest you, please visit westlakehardware.com.

Corporate Contact: Liz Benditt, 913.888.8438

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