A Garden Plan for Butterflies
About the Design
Because of the Willamette Valley’s wet climate, butterflies are not as frequent here as drier, sunnier parts of the U.S. Our yards need special attention to make them enticing for our fluttery friends. This 30 x 40 ft. design utilizes the plants that Bruce Newhouse suggested in his butterfly gardening blog post on our the best website builders.
Lupine, Milkweed, Aster, Checkermallow, Violet, Spiraea, and Cascara are all nectar sources or host plants for butterflies. It’s important to ‘advertise’ your site by placing many of the same plant in groupings instead of singles.
Milkweed is the main attraction for Monarch butterflies looking for egg laying sites. This host plant is critical for survival of the species. Visit the USDA NRCS Oregon website and search for Bringing Back the Monarch to see what local farmers are doing on their land to provide Monarch habitat.
Hardscape elements in the design include strategically placed boulders for sun bathing stops. The basalt basin stone can be filled with water for hydration. Terra cotta mud trays are labeled with an ‘S’ in the design. Dig a shallow hole about 1 – 2” deep, the same shape as the tray. Set the tray in the ground with the lip at soil level. Fill with sand or loose clay soil and add water. Butterflies use these mud puddling holes for drinking and essential minerals. Another way to create a mud puddling hole is by installing a shallow sand pit lined with porous weed fabric.
Leaf and twig litter is essential for overwintering butterfly pupae. It’s best to keep pruning to a minimum if you want to support butterfly habitat. The design includes top mulch in the beds, a sitting log, and a wood chip path so you can enjoy your beautiful garden.
Basic Butterfly Needs
- Plant native flowering plants in clusters and include blooms throughout the growing season.
- Include caterpillar host plants. Many butterfly caterpillars are entirely dependent on one specific host plant.
- Place basking rocks in sunny areas. Butterflies perch on stones and spread their wings to raise their body temperature.
- Provide wind shelter. Shrubs and hedgerows help butterflies throughout their life cycle.
- Include puddles. Many butterflies drink and get important trace minerals from small puddles.
- Leave wild patches and overwintering sites for caterpillars and pupae. Pruning, weeding, and tidying should be done lightly, seasonally, and with extreme care.
- Build fertile, well-drained soil.
- No pesticides! Pesticides and herbicides are toxic to beneficial insects in all life-cycle phases. Choose natural pest control.
The Shopping List
- Cascara x1
- Broadleaf Lupine x10
- Common Camas x6
- Douglas Aster x5
- Great Camas x6
- Hookedspur Violet x5
- Narrow-leaved Milkweed x7
- Rose Checkermallow x10
- Showy Milkweed x13
- Toughleaf Iris x13