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Paige Perfects: Butterfly Gardens

Updated: Jul 17, 2023

Some of my favorite moments spent in the garden are those in which I get to see Mother Nature flourishing in the habitat I have created. The same goes for experiences at other gardens as well. There is something so enriching about seeing a scape flushed with insects, animals...and LIFE!

One of my favorite ways to see nature overlapping and coming together this way is to catch a butterfly garden in season.

I was lucky enough to do this at Dothan Botanical Gardens last month.

The thing that struck me and left me lingering on this experience was the emphasis on the garden and the education surrounding it's maintenance.


If you plan on taking a trip to this diverse Butterfly Garden in Dothan, I highly recommend carving out some time to not only experience the garden, but also to learn more about it.


Dothan Botanical has a team in place to answer questions, share fun facts...AND, to ensure that no butterflies are harmed in the viewing of the space!

This knowledgeable staff added to our experience in many ways. We were thrilled to take home nuggets of information to help our own gardens support these beautiful butterflies and pollinators throughout the year. And if you know anything about me, you know I LOVE to take home a taste of an experience!

Clearly, Dothan Botanical speaks my language!

In addition to learning about what attracts these beauties to the garden, we also got to learn about their migration patterns and natural habitats.


When you think of a butterfly, you think of the chrysalis as it's home. The hard sac formed to facilitate growth and development. Once that growth is complete, the butterfly busts through the chrysalis & lives her best life.


BUT........Did you ever stop to think about WHERE the butterflies live after that?? Where they stay as they are migrating south for winter? What kind of habitat is needed to keep them flourishing throughout the rest of the cycle?


These are the details that peaked our interest! And this was another reason why I found this particular visit so enriching.


There is more to this great Monarch butterfly migration than meets the eye.

So in learning how to help facilitate the life cycle of the butterfly, I have been making it my mission to bring these beauties a haven in my own back yard.

And as proven by my many winged-visitors this October, I think I am on the right track!


All of this being said...


Time to share what I know. Join me in on a fruitful and rewarding journey! It's time to beef up our gardens & watch Mother Nature show her appreciation!


 


What should you grow in YOUR garden to attract butterflies?


In short...Nectar plants.

Flowering nectar plants need to be available to butterflies at all turns of season. The is an adult butterfly's primary source of nutrients. Nectar is also a primary food source for other pollinators, such as the bees! Fortunately there are MANY flowering plants that fit the bill!


When talking with the staff, I was shocked to find out that I already had a head start with building a butterfly garden in my own backyard! Their experts recommend plants such as Zinnias, Butterfly Bush, Hibiscus, Portulaca, & Coreopsis.


That being said, I live in the South. And understandably, some of these plants may not be charted for the zone you are living in. In other words...think about your seasons. What stays around, and what dies off in the winter? I got lucky living in Florida. So most of my perennials, annuals, and bi-annuals are on a regular blooming schedule.


So long as you keep year-round sustainability in mind, you are moving in the right direction!

Some additional nectar plants that attract butterflies include:

  • Salvia

  • Marigolds

  • Goldenrod

  • Lavender

  • Hollyhock

  • Bee Balm

  • Pansy

  • Phlox

There are many more species that will attract these beautiful butterflies to your garden. But it's all about what works best for your space!



 


So now that we've talked about plants to attract the butterflies....


How do you provide a home or haven for the butterflies in your garden?


The simplest answer to that is....Milkweed!

This flowering plant serves as a natural habitat for Monarch butterflies and more. Not only is this where they lay eggs, but milkweed will also provide a shelter for butterflies during a bought of bad weather.


There are MANY milkweed varieties, but all provide the same benefits when it comes to our butterflies. The "milk" on the leaves will feed the larvae after the eggs have hatched. My only disclaimer with milkweed is this....

This "milk" can be toxic to pets and small animals. I myself have a Pom that loves to get into ANY foliage she can get her paws on. So be careful when placing this specimen in your scape, and be sure to tuck it away from reach of pets and animals.

Fun Fact: This "milk" is a white latex, which builds up in the system of the monarch butterflies. Because this is the monarch butterfly's primary source of nutrients in infancy & early years, this is a toxin that stays in the Monarchs system for life. In later years, this toxin will help defend the butterfly from natural predators in the environment!

Pretty cool stuff...right!!?


Now that we have moved through those 2 requirements, just like I did...many of you may start to realize that you already have the basic foundation for your butterfly garden, too. Now it's time to put your knowledge to work and make it your own!!


My final pro tip: Check out the fertilizer that makes it all happen! Giving the heads up on SUPERthrive is the best gift I could ever give to my fellow plant parents! Sharing is caring!


 

I try to incorporate as many flowering plants as I can for my pollinators, and WOW do they return the favor! Check out a few of these shots below caught in my own wildflower garden!


Tag me on Instagram, @PaigePerfectsIt , if you have butterflies of your own to show off! I love to see what you guys are growing and tending in your free time!


If you don't have any pictures of your own pollinators to share, comment below and tell me your best tips & tricks for creating a busy butterfly garden in your own backyard!






 

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