Central Florida is visited by several types of butterflies, so it’s nearly impossible to pick a favorite. They’re all so beautiful in their own special way!
Some of the butterflies commonly seen in the Orlando area include the Tiger Swallowtail, the Zebra Swallowtail, the Zebra Longwing, the Gulf Fritillary, the Monarch, the Cloudless Sulphur, the Black Swallowtail, the Buckeye, the American Lady, and the Giant Swallowtail, which is Florida’s largest butterfly.
Although, not all butterflies enjoy the same flora and fauna, so it is important to plant a wide variety to attract as many species as possible. For example, if you want to attract Monarchs, you need to have plenty of milkweed available for them to feast and lay their eggs upon, and if you want to enjoy Zebra Longwings and Gulf Fritillaries, plant passionflowers in your garden.
No matter which winged beauties you choose to attract, there are essential things that must be done to keep any butterfly happy and coming back to visit you time and time again.
Want to Create the Ideal Butterfly Habitat? Follow These Helpful Tips.
Step 1: Choose a spot that’s sunny and sheltered. While we all know that flowering plants need full sun to bloom, did you know that butterflies need the sun’s warming rays to heat their bodies and enable them to fly? It’s true! So, pick a location that gets lots of sun, but make sure it is protected from wind.
Step 2: Enrich your soil. Add organic fertilizer such as compost to the dirt.
Step 3: Decisions, decisions! Research the different butterflies to determine which native plants they need and like, so you know what to grow in your garden. If you have a large area, you’re lucky to have the room to grow most of the plants that will attract several species. However, if your space is limited, you will have to determine which butterflies you fancy most, then fill your garden with the native flora that will draw them in.
Step 4: Plan(t) for the Long-term. Not only do butterflies need nourishment that will sustain them throughout their entire adult life, they also need a place to start the next generation. To accomplish this, plant for continuous bloom with a mixture of annuals and perennials, and be sure to include host plants, so they have a place to lay their eggs. While you will have to replant the annuals next year, the perennials will come back fuller because they are now established and ready to feed even more butterflies.
Step 5: Chillin’ in the sun! After a butterfly is done sipping nectar, they like to sit and enjoy a cool drink of water spiked with necessary minerals. By adding flat, light-colored stones and moist, sandy spots throughout your garden, you’re giving them a place to rest their wings and enjoy feasting on essential minerals from the soil. You can also purchase or create a stone with one or more golf ball-sized divots for holding water enhanced with minerals. Yum!
Step 6: Make it rain! Set your irrigation system to water your butterfly habitat in the morning. Doing this will keep your plants perky and keep the soil moist for thirsty butterflies.
Step 7: Keep it natural. Avoid pesticides and herbicides because they will kill your newfound friends. It is best to use organic matters such as compost and manure to feed your garden. It’s also a good idea to introduce beneficial insects such as lady bugs and praying mantis to fend off any nasty buggers.
Step 8: Maintain the tranquil beauty. Keep your butterfly garden thickly mulched to retain moisture and keep weeds at bay. Sure, you’ll have to do some weeding, but the mulch will greatly reduce the time you spend on your hands and knees when you would rather be sitting on your patio gazing at your butterfly sanctuary and its joyful residents.
Regarding regular maintenance, check your irrigation system ever so often to make sure it’s working properly. If you’re not sure your system is running like it should, call us or complete our request service form and we’ll come take a look.
The Ballad of the Butterfly
Now that you have created a natural haven for butterflies, it will be easy keeping it flourishing year after year, so you can enjoy nurturing the delicate beauties. After all, you have not only created a gorgeous garden, but a safe habitat for butterflies who will be happy to call it home for generations to come.