Like my kids, I love quick results without a lot of work. Here are some of my tips to starting your own butterfly garden this spring.
Plant a Passion Vine in a sunny location for instant results. Our passion vine is planted by our kitchen window so that my kids can monitor the caterpillars progress. The Passion Vine provides a safe home for butterflies to lay their eggs. The caterpillars will eat most (if not all) of the leaves on the vine. Mine usually goes through two cycles of butterflies. It will take about a month for the passion vine to leaf back out after the caterpillars have finished eating it down to the ground. We make sure no chemicals are sprayed near on our vines. We want to attract insects! If you watch closely enough you can see the caterpillars crawl away to form their chrysalis. They will generally crawl to a wooden area or brick overlay in a shady location. I have already seen several 1″ caterpillars on our Passion Vine this spring. The mild winter here in Dallas has given everything a head start.
Use large flower pots helps to eliminate weeding. Use good quality soil and you won’t have to worry about fertilizing. Butterfly friendly plants do well in pots in a sunny location. You can include pentas, lantana, coreopsis, Zinnias (both by seed or seedlings), phlox, salvia, marigolds, and native verbena. Add a focal point to your pots with esperanza, tropical hibiscus, lavender, or grasses. If you have a sunny location towards the back of your garden then a must have include a butterfly bush or butterfly weed.
If your maintenance company controls your weeds and insects make sure they know you do not want chemicals applied to your butterfly garden. Some chemicals are absorbed throughout the plant, and will be poisonous to your butterflies for months. It may be helpful to mark your garden and ask that crews be careful when spraying especially on a windy days.
Pictured above: Passion Vine, Pentas & Lantana. They are drought & heat tolerant, as well as attract beautiful colored butterflies and moths.