Gardening for Butterflies

Gardening for butterflies is the art of growing plants that attract butterflies, while creating a garden that appeals to you as well.

While we were visiting the Kirstenbosch Gardens last year, we saw a whole section dedicated to creating a garden which welcomes butterflies. Below are some of the tips they recommend in order to get the butterflies to flock (flock? do butterlies flock? fly en masse…?) to your lawn.

1. Choose a sunny, relatively wind-free spot in your garden; butterflies need sun to warm their flight muscles.

2. Find out which butterflies occur in your area and, which plants they choose to lay their eggs on (host plants/larval food plants), and which plants the butterflies like to feed on (nectar plants).

3. Plant a mixture of nectar and larval food plants.

4. Provide a few muddy patches for them, butterflies love drinking from damp soil around mud puddles, ponds and streams.

5. Leave out old fruit for them, they love the fermenting juices of decaying fruit.

6. Stop using pesticides! There are organic pesticides, or you can try mixing vinegar with lemon juice to make a weedkiller. A non-toxic pesticide can also be made by using a mixture of white sugar and hydrogen peroxide.

Enjoy watching and getting to know these beautiful creatures. Also look after the caterpillars; they aren’t pests that need to be killed. Think of caterpillars as butterflies in disguise.

Butterfly Watching tips:

The best time for butterfly watching is on sunny days in summer. Move slowly and fluidly, any rapid movements will chase them away. Wear brightly coloured clothing and keep still, one may even land on you.

(Butterflies feed on nectar, and are attracted to nectar rich flowers like: scabious, buddleja, ganzania, vygies, freylinia, kniphofia, geranium, barleria, arctotis and many more).

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