BUTTERFLY GARDENING

Butterfly gardening is becoming more popular in St. Louis. Barrett Elementary School in the Parkway School District has a fine example of butterfly gardening thanks to Greg Miles. Providing the basic needs of butterflies, such as food, shelter and liquids, will encourage butterflies to visit during the summer.

There are a number of plants that attract butterflies. However, different species of butterflies prefer different plants. Using a variety of plant material that vary in blooming times of day and year helps attract a diverse group of visitors. Plant groups of the same plant together; a single plant is difficult for a butterfly to detect. If trying to attract a certain species of butterfly, learn which plant(s) that a particular butterfly prefers, and then emphasize that plant in your garden.

Annuals that attract butterflies include ageratum, cosmos, French marigold, petunia, verbena and zinnia. Perennials and shrubs can be split into those that bloom early, mid-season and late. Good choices for those that bloom early include allium, chives, forget-me-not and lilac. Bee Balm, butterfly bush, black-eyed Susan, buttonbush, butterfly weed, daisy, daylily, gailardia, lavender, lily, mintphlox, privet, sunflower and veronica are fitting picks for mid-season bloom. Late bloomers include aster, glossy abelia and sedum. There are other encouragements for attracting butterflies. Butterflies are cold-blooded and like open areas where they can sun themselves on cool days and shade to cool them off when the sun is too intense.

Butterflies also need water. A simple way to make a butterfly pool is to take a bucket, fill it with gravel, and bury it to the rim. Now add water, sugar water or sweet drinks so that the butterflies can land on the gravel but still reach the liquid.
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