Butterfly 1

Flying Flowers

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Photo courtesy of hdw.eweb4.com.

Photo courtesy of hdw.eweb4.com.

The butterfly is a flying flower,
The flower a tethered butterfly.
– Ponce Denis

As the rain has abated and warmer, sunny weather has arrived, most people’s perennials have celebrated with lots of gorgeous blooms.  We are seeing tons of phlox, coneflowers, blanket flowers, day lilies, lavender, daisies, beebalm, Russian sage, spirea and butterfly bushes blooming in gardens all over the city.  Even better, with those standard flowers come “flying flowers” too… a.k.a. butterflies!  If you would like to encourage these delicate friends to visit your garden, remembering a few key facts will help considerably.

First, provide a full sun site (at least 6 hours a day) — the flowers that attract butterflies require lots of sun in order to create stand-out blooms.  Butterflies are attracted to large blocks of color, so grouping your perennials is a great tactic for enticing butterflies to hang out in your yard.  Also, your garden should be relatively sheltered from strong winds.  Butterflies don’t have the capacity to continuously fight winds (or even strong breezes) while they are sipping on nectar, so try to plant your colorful butterfly flowers in a sheltered spot they can relax in.

Color blocking your garden will help attract more butterflies.  (Photo courtesy of www.outdoortheme.com)

Color blocking your garden will help attract more butterflies. (Photo courtesy of www.outdoortheme.com)

Second, try to eliminate any natural butterfly predators nearby.  Cats, predatory birds and chemical insecticides are all butterfly enemies and can discourage them from paying you a visit and sticking around.

Third, feed them their favorites!  Butterflies are more attracted to certain perennials and annuals, so turn your garden into a butterfly buffet; tons of their preferred nectars, all within easy reach!  Here we’ve created a handy list of some of the best annuals, perennials and shrubs for butterflies, all of which grow well in Rochester weather and you can find at our garden center.  (It’s a photo, so it’s easy to just click and print the list rather than the entire blog post.)

Gates Garden Club Butterfly Handout 2013

And finally, sometimes folks will plant a variety of butterfly-friendly plants and forget what we think is one of the most important aspects of a butterfly garden — the caterpillar!

This caterpillar will become a monarch butterfly after spending time in its chrysalis.  A cool process for kids AND adults to observe!  (Photo courtesy of http://science.howstuffworks.com/zoology/insects-arachnids/caterpillar3.htm)

This caterpillar will become a monarch butterfly after spending time in its chrysalis. A cool process for kids AND adults to observe! (Photo courtesy of http://science.howstuffworks.com/zoology/insects-arachnids/caterpillar3.htm)

Trying to have a butterfly garden without caterpillars is like trying to plant a garden without soil — you just can’t do it, and why would you want to?  Caterpillars are wicked cool to watch, and sacrificing a few leaves from your garden is just how the circle of life works.  The Rochester Butterfly Club has compiled a great list of local plants caterpillars love munching on, so be sure to include some of those in your garden too.  Visit their page and click the “Butterfly Host Plants” link in the top bar.

We began this post with a quote we love, and will sign off the same way.  Here’s to enjoying the flowers AND “flying flowers” in the garden this season!

“Happiness is a butterfly, which when pursued, is always just beyond your grasp, but which, if you will sit down quietly, may alight upon you.”
– Nathaniel Hawthorne

Please Also Remember: We are getting excited for our Summer Kids Grow Club meeting — a butterfly release will be held Saturday, August 17 at 2 p.m. at the Greece Public Library, in partnership with the Seneca Park Zoo!  This free event includes the butterfly release, butterfly information, and butterfly-themed craft, and is open to kids ages 5-12, no registration required.  Get all the details here on our events page, and be sure to sign up your child for the Grow Club in order to get info on future club meetings!

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