Q&As/Garden Insects/Attracting Butterflies

Question

How can I attract butterflies to my garden? What plants do they like? I tried growing swan plants but haven’t had any success. What conditions do they need to grow?

Answer

To attract a variety of butterflies to your garden, you need to include nectar and pollen plants for adult butterflies and host plants for their larvae. Nectar and pollen plants include: asters, buddleia cornflowers, coreopsis, cosmos, fuchsias, hebes, heliotropes, marigolds, penstemons, phlox and zinnias. Plants to feed caterpillars include hibiscus, hollyhocks, lupins, nasturtium, snapdragons and violets.

When growing ‘Swan plants’ or ‘Milkweeds’ for monarch caterpillars/butterflies, choose a sheltered, sunny site. If you are growing them from seed, use Daltons Premium Seed Mix and place 2-3 seeds per pot on top of the soil and cover lightly with soil. Leave in a sunny position to aid germination. Seeds should sprout within 1-2 weeks. You can also sow seeds directly into the garden. Alternatively, purchase seedlings from your local garden centre. Ensure they have not been sprayed as this can affect and even kill the caterpillars. You may wish to stagger your plantings as caterpillars can strip a plant very quickly.

Include a few flat rocks in your butterfly garden as they absorb and radiate heat for butterflies.  

Always adopt strict organic practices to control pest and diseases, as this will keep visitors to your butterfly garden safe. For more butterfly information, visit Moths and Butterflies of New Zealand Trust at www.monarch.org.nz. 

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