When you look at a beautiful West Virginia garden, it's hard to imagine anything that would make it more attractive. But our real estate agents do have one suggestion you might like. Here are a few tips to help you create a butterfly garden.
• Pick the Right Spot
Butterflies enjoy sunny spots, shielded from wind and rain. Strong winds are hard on these delicate creatures, so it's essential to provide some protection. If your garden doesn't already offer those features, you can add shrubs or trees to your landscaping. Stick to native species. Some good choices are dogwood, wild cherry, and yellow poplar. It's important to remember that your winged visitors need both sun and shade. Large rocks placed among the shrubs provide resting places to enjoy the sunshine while showing off their splendid colors.
• Design a Comfortable Habitat
Understanding the life cycle of butterflies will help you design the best place for them to call home. Adults need food and water to sustain themselves, while caterpillars require a sturdy host plant. West Virginia generally offers sufficient water for them in the morning dew. However, if you want to make sure, you can create a butterfly bath, as you would for birds. Instead of deep water in which to bathe, butterflies prefer a sandy puddle with rocks where they can rest. This is an opportunity to add an artistic feature to the garden with a pre-made purchase or your own creation.
• Choose Your Flowers
Strong scents and bright colors are most inviting to butterflies. They are most attracted to lavender, purple, and red flowers, but also like yellow and mauve. The carbohydrate content of their nectar is important, but you may also opt to provide supplementary nutrition. Just mix a few overripe bananas with brown sugar and beer to create a paste. Spread it on rocks or tree trunks to provide a welcome treat.
Plant flowers that will bloom at different, but overlapping, times in the season to keep your butterflies coming all summer long. Lilacs, violets, and azaleas are great for early spring. Clovers and vegetables can fill in between spring and summer. Daisies, coneflowers, and sunflowers are perfect for warm summers. Goldenrods, mints, nettle, and yarrow will last through the summer and into the fall. One of the best shrubs to support your butterflies is called, of course, the butterfly bush. They are lovely, fast-growing, and provide masses of blossoms.
• Avoid Chemicals
Herbicides and pesticides are deadly to butterflies, so avoid them at all costs. Control unwanted insects by using plants they don't like. Mint, marigold, rosemary, and lemongrass will discourage mosquitos and aphids. Ladybugs are a welcome guest as they feed on aphids and arachnids, which will feed on caterpillars. Fortunately, many of the plants that attract butterflies will also attract ladybugs.
• Avoid Imports
It may be tempting to buy larvae or plants online to help kickstart your garden. Unless the species are local, you can be inviting trouble to the area. Foreign species may grow out of control, causing a lot of damage to the ecosystem. Talk to your local garden shop to get the best advice about what to plant, and just wait patiently for the butterflies to come. It's always best to use native plants. You can even plant seeds you have gathered from plants growing wild in public places.