How to create a butterfly garden?

Landscape Designing
// December 18, 2016
How to create butterfly garden

What is butterfly garden?

The butterfly is undoubtedly the most beautiful insect on earth. We all automatically relate these colorful creatures with flowers & gardens. The concept of the butterfly garden is simple; a particular garden is developed in such a way that it naturally attracts lots of butterflies. All the plants & overall micro-environment of the garden is made butterfly friendly. The idea is not just to attract butterflies, but also the local butterfly species should feel homely & they should be encouraged to make this garden their own habitat. So when you enter a butterfly garden, you immediately notice their presence.

Learn to Create Bee-friendly garden.

butterfly flower

Read more about Butterfly Gardening.

What are common butterflies of India?

India is blessed with rich diversity in the species of butterflies. Even urban areas of India and mega cities like Mumbai & Bangalore have significant local butterfly population. Following are some of the most common beautiful urban butterflies of India: Tailed Jay, Striped Tiger, Blue Tiger, the great orange tip, emigrant, commander, common grass yellow, Jezebel, Lime & much more. Southern Birdwing is the largest butterfly in India. Another big butterfly Blue Mormon is a state butterfly of Maharashtra. Blue oak-leaf is a butterfly that looks like a dry leaf.

tailed jay butterfly

Butterfly life cycle:

The butterfly counts not months but moments and has time enough. – Rabindranath Tagore

The lifecycle of a butterfly is the most interesting part. The female butterfly lays tiny eggs on host plant leaves. The eggs hatch into larvae within few days. The larvae become young caterpillars as they continuously feed on the leaves. Caterpillars gain weight every day and increase in size multifold as they go on feasting on host plant leaves. As the mature caterpillars gain full size, they move into the phase of rest & form a pupa. Although it looks like the insect is hibernating, a lot is happening inside pupa. In a matter of 2-3 weeks, an adult butterfly breaks open the pupa, spreads its wings & disappears in the garden in search of nectar.   

butterfly life cycle

butterfly lifecycle

Plants for Butterfly Garden:

There are two types of butterfly attracting plants: Host plants & nectar plants.

White Butterfly

Butterfly host plants:

These are the plants where eggs are laid, larvae, caterpillars & pupa are formed. These are the plants on which the caterpillars feed on. Butterflies are called first botanists of earth. They recognize host plants by chemical stimuli & lay eggs on a particular group of species only. Examples of butterfly host plants: False Ashoka, Curry leaves, Custard Apple, Castor, Silk cotton tree, Calotropis, Cassia, Citrus, etc.

butterfly host plants

Butterfly nectar plants:

These are the flowering plants that attract hovering butterflies for nectar. Butterfly attracting flowers are mostly colorful, small in size & many in number. Nectar plants can be perennials or annuals.

Butterfly nectar plants

Butterfly attracting perennials:

Lantana, Jamaican spike, Wedelia, Clerodendron, Alternanthera, etc.

butterfly on lantana flower

Butterfly attracting annuals:

Celosia, Ageratum, Gomphrena, Marigold, Cosmos, Zinnia. Buy seeds of butterfly attracting flowers online in India.   

Butterfly on marigold flower

Tips to create butterfly garden:

1. A butterfly garden should get plenty of morning sunlight; there should not be any tall structure or tree at the east side of a garden.

2. Host plants should be hidden in the background; nectar plants should be exhibited in front for best looks of flowers & hovering butterflies.

3. There should be a tree shade & small water body in the vicinity of the garden.

4. There should be patches for mud peddling, sun basking for butterflies.    

5. Apart from flower nectar, butterflies also get minerals from rotten fruits & peels, which can be easily placed in the garden.

Lime butterfly lifecycle

Common butterflies in India

When the spirit of nature touches us, our hearts turn into a butterfly.

Happy gardening!

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