“Attention!  Calling All Butterflies!”  How to Create a Butterfly Garden

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Butterflies are truly unique.  Majestically clothed in feathery suits of bright colors, they float from flower to flower, doing their job by pollinating the plants wherever they go.  With their shy and gentle ways it’s only natural that they would appeal to practically everyone, so if you love butterflies and want to attract more of them to your garden, here is some information on the type of trees and shrubs they will be most likely to come to:

Attracting Butterflies

When butterflies come to alight in your garden they are searching for food, water and a bit of shelter.  That’s why it’s good to have plenty of trees and shrubs around, because they produce fruit, berries and nuts while providing shelter and safe breeding areas.  A real butterfly garden will be created not just with the adult butterflies in mind, but also as a place for them to hibernate and lay eggs and for the larva, or caterpillars to grow and feed as they mature.

The most effective way of encouraging butterflies to visit your garden is to begin with an array of flowering and fruit trees and shrubs.  It’s best to opt for a mixture of those which are prolific bloomers and those which bloom for a long time.

.  Sweetbay Magnolias — In the spring these come alive with creamy white flowers which have a light lemon scent.  This type of tree makes an excellent patio tree, and will produce the most flowers if given access to full sun.  It will also develop clusters of red fruit.  Sweetbay magnolias will lure butterflies like the tiger and zebra swallowtail.

.  Eastern Redbud — The Eastern redbud is among the earliest trees to burst into bloom come the spring.  That’s why it is frequently visited by different types of butterflies.  Some of these species are the silvery blue, dreamy duskywing and zebra swallowtail.  It produces nectar and pollen which draw butterflies needed for a small orchard or a vegetable garden to thrive.

     .  Pink Dogwood — This tree normally blooms in April and May and develops a shiny red fruit that will ripen in the fall.  The blossoms lure butterflies like the American snout, banded hairstreak and white admiral.

.  Butterfly Bush — In areas like Pennsylvania, Butterfly bushes are ideal.  Not only is the bush pretty, but butterflies and hummingbirds both find it irresistible.  It will bloom for the entire summer, requires full sunlight, and produces flowers in white, purple and pink.  It isn’t difficult to maintain either, requiring pruning in the early spring when it should be cut back to 8-12″.  There is no deadheading necessary.

.  Blue Mist Shrub —  While there just aren’t many actually blues in the flower world, the blooms on a Blue mist shrub come very close indeed.  When they make their appearance in late summer, every butterfly and bee in the vicinity makes a mad dash for them.  This small shrub or woody perennial, is also one of the easiest shrubs you can grow, because it is drought tolerant, requiring no supplemental water, unless conditions are exceptionally dry, and practically takes care of itself.

The leaves are short, narrow and appear similar to a willow’s, usually a silvery-gray in color.  Yellow and variegated varieties can also be purchased.  The flowers cluster above the foliage, and seem to be little little puffs of feathers.  They are still usually a shade of blue or purple, although there is now a new pink variety available.

In order to keep the plant in shape the Blue mist shrub should be cut down by about half each year in the early spring.  Keeping it at a height of about 18″ is good.

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