backyard butterfly sanctuaries

Catching a glimpse of a butterfly in your own back yard always feels just a little bit magical. Most of our gardens only host an occasional visit from these ethereal creatures, but you can create a garden bustling with butterflies if you attract them and create a habitat to keep them coming back. A little planning goes a long way. Three to four generations of monarchs may live during one Minnesota summer and you can entice them to visit and even stay with the right garden design.

Organize your plan and group plants together for color and texture to attract and host several generations of butterflies. Plant a wide variety of perennial plants that bloom at varying times in the season. Select a cross-section of nectar-rich blooming plants such as sunflowers, pink Joe-Pye weed, purple coneflowers, black-eyed Susans, purple verbena, red bee balm, butterfly weed, and purple asters. Annuals also provide nectar and may bloom continuously throughout the season.

You can encourage butterflies to take up residence by including host plants for their eggs. Their caterpillar offspring will eat host plants, form cocoons and eventually transform into graceful next-generation butterflies. Some gardeners plant host plants in the center of their gardens so the chewed-up leaves are hidden by the nectar-rich blooms preferred by adult butterfly diners. Consult an expert for arrangement and proximity of host and feeding plants.

Add a birdbath and keep the water shallow and fresh. Small rocks in the basin give them a place to perch. You can use a nectar feeder to supplement the butterflies’ food source. Make your own butterfly food by mixing water and sugar (10:1 ratio), boiling until the sugar dissolves.

Visit The Mustard Seed to learn more about attracting butterflies.