If you've ever considered planting a butterfly and hummingbird garden, why not do it this year? You can create a haven for your winged friends by filling your garden with plants they adore. All you need is plenty of sun, nectar filled plants, larval host plants and a little bit of knowledge.
Coneflowers, butterfly bushes, coreopsis, lavender and monarda are just a few examples of nectar source plants that are favorites of butterflies and hummingbirds. Have a trellis or fence? Plant a honeysuckle and watch the butterflies flock to it! Because butterflies need the warmth of the sun, look for plants that grow in full sun to provide them with both nectar and sunlight. Select a wide variety of plants with different bloom times to ensure that you always have nectar sources available in your garden. Butterflies and hummingbirds also love brightly colored flowers, especially ones that are red, orange, yellow and pink. By selecting the right plants, you can turn your garden into a butterfly's buffet!
When you think about a butterfly garden, the focus is typically on the butterflies themselves. However, we must remember that every butterfly was once a caterpillar! Larval host plants are used by adult butterflies as a place to lay eggs, then as a food source for the newly hatched caterpillars. Some common larval host plants are parsley, clovers, milkweed, willows and an array of grasses. By planting host plants (and allowing the caterpillars to eat them) you can support the full life cycle of the butterflies and increase the number of visitors to your garden.
If you're creating a garden aimed at attracting butterflies and hummingbirds, be sure to take extra care to avoid using pesticides that could potentially harm your winged visitors. Plants such as marigolds, mint, lavender and citronella repel pests naturally and make a valuable addition to any garden. If you encounter any pesky insects such as aphids or mealy bugs, make an insecticidal soap by mixing a tablespoon of mild dish soap in a gallon of water. Spray the insects with this mixture until they're gone, taking care to avoid the butterflies.
A great idea is to take the time to research butterflies and hummingbirds native to your area. Visit your library, local botanical gardens and county extension office or do some research online. If you familiarize yourself with native butterflies and their preferred nectar and larval host plants, you'll be able to better cater to their needs—and that means more butterflies will visit your garden! It's also beneficial to become familiar with the appearance of butterflies in their larval stages. That way, you'll know what to look for on your host plants and avoid mistaking caterpillars for pests.
Plants are not the only way to help out the butterflies in your area. Not only do they enjoy nectar from plants, butterflies also need salt. By filling a birdbath or other dish with sand and water and adding a small amount of sea salt, you can create a "salt lick" for the butterflies to enjoy.
Butterflies also love overripe fruit, so if you have some bananas, oranges, watermelon, etc. that you are planning on throwing out, why not give it to the butterflies instead? Simply place the fruit on a small dish and slightly mash it. The butterflies will love it and will reward you with a colorful show!
While creating a butterfly and hummingbird garden can be a little bit of work, it is worth it as soon as the butterflies and hummingbirds arrive! If you follow the advice above, you're sure to give your winged friends their very own piece of paradise—and you'll be just as delighted as they are as you admire them all season long!

Creating A Butterfly and Hummingbird Garden