Secrets of Butterfly Gardening in Central Florida Part Two – The seven steps to creating a butterfly garden

Part one, the butterfly
Secrets of Butterfly Gardening in Central Florida Part one, the butterfly
August 16, 2019
types of butterflies found in Central Florida
Secrets of Butterfly Gardening in Central Florida Part Three – Types of butterflies found in Central Florida
August 30, 2019

It doesn’t take long to realize a sincere butterfly gardener needs to consider a number of factors when planning a habitat, especially for butterflies. And, finding the right plants for feeding caterpillars and butterflies isn’t all gardener has to think about. Since birds eat caterpillars and butterflies, it is best not to try to attract birds and butterflies in the same area. Too, caterpillars eat a lot and often play havoc with plants and trees in the garden. Additionally, neighbors sometimes complain, and lawn ordinances (particularly in condominium associations) often prohibit the weeds, so many butterflies need for nectar and host plants. Taking all these factors into consideration and resolving any problems, if you are still ready to create a butterfly garden, here are the seven necessary steps to success:

Step 1: Spend time in your local community, observing what species of butterflies are living there. Checking with local environmentalists, visiting parks, and botanical gardens as well as going online for advice, should give you the answers you are looking for. Part three of this series will discuss in detail several of the most common varieties of butterflies found in Central Florida.

Step 2:  As butterflies seem to worship the sun, it is best to locate your butterfly garden in a sunny spot. Butterflies tend to be inactive on cloudy days, but sunny days increase their activity as the heat from the sun raises their body temperature and metabolism.

 Step 3: This step involves planting nectar sources for adults, making sure to provide some upright flowers with tubes, called corollas, into which they insert their proboscises to draw out the nectar. A variety of local plants can be used as butterflies are not nearly as fussy as their caterpillars. Consider plants with numerous flower heads for good landing platforms. Also, since butterflies are seasonal, it is important to have a variety of plants with different blooming seasons. A variety of blooming times will ensure an ongoing visitation of different species of butterflies.

Step 4: This step involves planting food for the larvae or caterpillars. Since most caterpillars feed only on specific plants, it is this step which requires the most research on the gardener’s part. The gardener should take the results of the local butterfly inventory done in Step 1 and find out what the caterpillars of each species eat. For example, if one of the butterflies a gardener hoped to attract was a Monarch, then mildewed would have to be the plant of choice.

Step 5: Sketching plans before doing the actual planting is wise. This way, the gardener will make sure all the considerations of successful butterfly gardening are met before planting. At this point, the design of the aesthetic value of the garden can be considered as well as making sure the needed weeds and grasses are as far away from neighbors’ yards as possible. Soil conditions can be adjusted and providing shelter from wind and rain can be worked into the final plans. A source of water such as a birdbath or puddle should be provided as well.

 Step 6: This step stands on its own as it is so important. Do NOT use pesticide of any sort as bug spray will kill the caterpillars.

Step 7: Using the concept of natural landscaping by providing plantings of wildflowers and butterfly, inviting weeds and grasses suited to your local butterflies will soon bring the colorful flutter of gossamer wings. Usually, within a month, you will see and enjoy the results of your efforts.

Butterfly gardening is a wonderful way to enjoy the beauty of nature while helping to preserve some of nature’s most lovely creatures. In an age where pesticides and the removal of natural habitats are ever-increasing, butterfly gardening is vitally important. If you live in Central Florida, you will want to read Part three of this series to learn about some of the species of butterflies you can expect to see taking advantage of your garden and learn what plants their caterpillars eat. A list of plants suited to Central Florida and enjoyed by adult butterflies will also be included.