Butterflies have to be one of the most magical creatures out there.
Are gorgeously rainbow colored? Check.
Can fly? Check.
Feed daintily from flowers with a tongue shaped like an ancient Celtic rune? Check.
Soak up energy from the stars (or a star, the sun, it still counts)? Check!
They even have the superpower ability to morph from a grotesquely cute, highly vulnerable crawler into a much more stunning and powerful form.
Butterflies cast a special sort of spell over kids. Following them, observing them, picking up a chubby caterpillar and feeling its tickle on an open palm, each is a natural learning initiative that never loses its fascination.
You can lure these real-life fairies into your garden by creating a special place, just for them.
Step 1: Do some research.
Find out which butterflies are native to your area. Then find out what plants they like to feed on. You could use google for this – or (this is much more fun) pack up the kids and a picnic and go on a field trip to a local butterfly sanctuary. Some of the plants you purchase will need to be species that native butterflies enjoy.
Step 2: Plan your garden.
Butterflies find groups of flowers highly attractive, so plant several of the same types in clumps.
If your beds are large, plan spaces in and around them where you can observe the butterflies.
Large plants need to go behind smaller ones, so they don’t obstruct your view.
Prepare beds in the sun: butterflies like to feed in the sun, as they and most of the plants they feed off need at least six hours of sunlight a day.
Your butterfly garden needs to be sheltered from the wind.
If you use pesticides in any area of your garden, you’ll need to plant your butterfly haven far away from that patch: pesticides kill butterflies! We recommend adopting organic gardening techniques with these natural pesticide alternatives.
Consider planting your butterfly garden around your children’s natural play spaces, so they can easily join in the fun.
If you don’t have access to an outside garden, you can still enjoy these gorgeous animals by growing an indoor garden on your windowsills. Invest in garden pots like these biodegradable peat pots or large terracotta pots, and go wild with the flowers.
Step 3: Plant the garden.
Sow some plants that bear colorful blossoms, and some that bear sweet-smelling blossoms. Butterflies are attracted to both.
Plant a wide variety; aim to have something in blossom all year round.
Sow plants in blocks so they are easy to locate.
Sow some vegetables and herbs where butterflies can lay their eggs. In fact, if you haven’t already – why not start your own permaculture garden, where both you and the caterpillars can reap a harvest of wholesome, organically grown food!
Step 3: Provide water.
Butterflies get vital minerals from muddy water. Here’s how to make a butterfly “puddling station”.
Step 4: Lay out some flat rocks.
These beautiful creatures love to sunbathe. On cold mornings, flat rocks become their toasty lawn chairs.
Enjoy the fruit of your labors by taking some time out of your busy schedule, every week, to relax in your butterfly garden and appreciate its magical beauty.
Written by Rifke Hill
About the Author
Rifke Hill was raised on the sort of farm your grandparents told tales about – milking cows, gathering eggs, hoeing the soil, and building fires to heat water. She now spends part of her time copywriting online as a freelancer. The rest of it is spent nurturing and teaching her four energetic children, growing vegetables, baking bread, reading voraciously, having coffee with the neighbors, and enjoying the sunny slopes of the smallholding where she lives, in the Garden Route, South Africa.