There is nothing like a Monarch Butterfly. It is truly an honor to play a very small part in the great Monarch Butterfly migration. Over the years, the numbers of Monarch Butterflies have begun to fall. Over-population, lack of good land management and the loss of butterfly habitat all play a part of the dwindling numbers. Most environmental issues are way outside the average person’s control…..except one. Planting a Butterfly Garden.
In the days of old, butterflies were everywhere. In the gardens of my youth, I remember many different types of butterflies enjoying our gardens. Things are different now. It’s become a novelty to even see a Butterfly. Why is that? How did people stray so far from the love of the land? Honestly, I don’t know the answer. All I do know is that when I take my young, little violin students out to see the Monarchs, they squeal with absolute delight.
“Look!!! A real live Monarch Butterfly that I learned about in school!!!!”
It makes the whole “summer of bad garden days” worth every bit of sweat on my brow. Here are a few ideas to add some nectar-loving plants to your yard.
First, be wild. Choose a spot in your yard that can handle the “less than perfect” edging. Allowing your flowers to be wild and carefree seems to attract more flying things like bees, birds and butterflies.
Second, if you want Butterflies, you need to invest in butterfly host plants. I choose host plants for all butterflies. The problem with host plants for Monarchs is that their favorite host, Antelope Horn Milkweed, really doesn’t like to be planted. It is a miracle Monarchs even survive. I’ve killed $200 worth of Milkweed. ….and I keep going back for more. I’ve planted other Milkweeds as well. Milkweed chooses to grow or not to grow based on some wierd position of the earth’s roation in reference to a distant star. Not really, but Milkweed is so random, I am beginning to believe that bunch of nonsense. For other Butterflies, research host plants and plant as many as you can. Think of it as creating a little garden caterpillar nursery for future butterflies. 🙂
Third (my favorite) plant your nectar loving plants for all Seasons. A few of my favorites are Cow Pen Daisy, Mist flowers, Lantana, Salvia and ofcourse the beloved Zinnia. My friend Karalina doesn’t mess around when it comes to planting Zinnias. This past year, she ordered an entire pound of seeds. Have you ever seen a Zinnia seed? A pound of those little weightless seeds is A LOT of Zinnias……and she has the butterflies to prove it! 🙂
This season of Monarch Migration has been unreal. Last year I had random Monarchs visit. This year, I’ve been able to count literally hundreds at a time. The butterflies love to rest in the big Live Oak trees, after a nice nectar dinner of Cow Pen Daisy…..which is everywhere. During the Fall, the butterflies are headed back to Mexico and need all the pollinators they can get. My rule of thumb is “If it flowers, it stays.” The Fall Gardens are alive with butterflies.
The great Monarch Migration. One of God’s miracles that deserves to be preserved and protected. Plant some host and nectar plants today. Encourage and invite the butterflies back to the garden. Be the change agent in your neighborhood. Embrace the beauty that the garden has for you.
Happy Butterfly Gardening, my friends.