Welcoming winged wonders

Greens and flowers aren’t enough to satisfy your longing for a stronger bond with Nature? Then, how about inviting winged visitors to your garden by creating a butterfly garden?

A garden that attracts butterflies to spend time there, breed and multiply, thereby providing a colourful feast for your eyes!

Basically, a butterfly garden aims at playing host to butterflies and moths. Naturally, this means you choose plants bearing beautiful blossoms and offering delightful nectar to attract them. So, first identify such nectar plants that flourish well in your environment. Safe choices include sunflowers, lantana, marigolds, asters, cosmos and zinnias. Plan spots for planting annuals and those for perennials. Butterflies also need plants that can harbour their eggs and feed their young – host plants. Don’t plant the nectar and host plants too far away from each other. Also, plant the shorter ones in front of the taller ones like rose plants. Prune dried stems, remove dead plants and pull out weeds regularly.

Speak to experienced butterfly gardening enthusiasts, browse the Internet and read books to learn more about suitable species. This can also help acquaint you with the nuances of butterfly gardening, its various demands and requirements and throw light upon the right plant varieties.

You can also pick and order them online from the catalogues of sites selling bulbs and seeds.
However, attractive plants will not suffice. You need to resort to other means as well to draw butterflies to your garden. The first of these is a butterfly house.

Not only will it shelter your delicate multi-hued beauties from the harsh elements (wind/rain), but it will also enhance your garden’s appearance if crafted artistically. Ensure such an abode contains slots of the size that’ll allow only butterflies inside and keep birds out.

Providing another source of nectar in addition to the natural source of flowers (say, a homemade feeder jar filled with sugar solution) besides other food resources (e.g., hanging cloths soaked in mashed fruit or fruit juice) is an option to consider. Sand beds for puddling plus a few flat stones pressed into the mud for sunning themselves would be welcome too. Since they need water, provide at least little puddles or pools if water features and fountains aren’t feasible. You could also keep a mud puddle moist or place a bucket filled with moistened sand in a sunny location. Trees, shrubs and rocks offer resting-places besides shelter from the wind.

Indeed, a sunny location for your butterfly garden is one of the prime prerequisites while planning your garden’s location. But, make sure it’s sheltered from the wind. You can locate your butterfly garden in a part of your regular garden. However, space isn’t a constraint for embarking upon this venture. Even a window-box will serve your purpose! Garden furniture is for you to sit back and drink in your butterfly garden’s beauty!

Looking for precautions? Avoid pesticide use. Get rid of predators like wasps, ants, bugs, birds and spiders using traps instead. Rinsing the plants with water and spraying them with oil or soap (after the caterpillars are removed from them) are other alternatives. If aphids are a bother, try employing biological pest control agents that aren’t harmful to the butterflies.

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