Saturday, January 27, 2007

Save the Butterflies

Monarch caterpillar and eggs on a milkweed plant

Butterflies are really struggling to find food and places to lay eggs as more native habitat is being lost. As a backyard habitat steward, I recommend everyone I visit put in a small butterfly garden. You don't need more than 4 or 5 plants in a small area to make a big difference. Putting in a few of the recommended plants and a water source, like a birdbath is enough to get your yard certified as a backyard habitat by NWF if that is something that interests you. We have 2 butterfly gardens and that is the extend of what we've been able to do here but we get tons on butterflies and bees all summer long.

This needs to be in a full-sun area:
Joe Pye Weed (eupatorium maculatum)
Butterfly weed (asclepias tuberosa)
Milkweed (asclepias syriaca) - the only plant monarchs lay their eggs on
Bee balm (monarda didyma)
Cardinal flower (lobelia)
Coneflower (echinacea)
Goldenrod (Solidago) - a vital food source for monarchs during their migration in the fall.

I have all the above plants in my butterfly garden and they grow like, well weeds! I planted them in May and didn't have to water or anything all summer. These are plants that are good for the east coast, if you live elsewhere you may need different plants. I'm going to try growing Butterfly weed, Milkweed, and Coneflower from seed this year. If I can get some seeds going, I'm going to give away plants to friends in hopes they will also put in a butterfly garden.

We love to sit by the garden and watch the butterflies for hours. It truly is an easy way to make a difference for wildlife.

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