1. We picked the Perfect Location – in the Courtyard!
In the perfect location for a butterfly garden, sunlight is the key. However, there needs to be shade as well, so they can regulate their body temperature. The Courtyard, outside of the dining room has both. It also has rocks where they can sun themselves, and native plants which butterflies (and all pollinators) love.
2. We chose the Right Plants after some research!
Many plants that are in the Courtyard are pollinator friendly. However, replaced some with all the right plants. These plants were donated from Sr. Bernice Rieland’s sister Mary Clark. Many are native species. Butterflies are more likely to be attracted to a garden filled with the native plants with which they are familiar.
3. The Courtyard already has Host Plants!
Two types of plants that butterflies need are host plants and nectar plants. Host plants, where butterflies lay their eggs, are vital to the butterfly lifecycle and will encourage butterflies to linger and explore. Common examples of host plants are milkweed (make sure it’s native and not tropical!) for monarch butterflies and their caterpillars, and parsley, for black swallowtails and their caterpillars. We have milkweed that is native!
4. The Courtyard has Nectar Plants!
Nectar plants are the flowers that adult butterflies feed on. Common native wildflowers like Aster, Echinacea, and Cup Plants are a great source of nectar for butterflies. We also made sure to plant flowers that bloom throughout the spring and summer to provide nectar throughout the season. Our Butterfly Garden includes these nectar plants: Echinacea, Autumn Joy Sedum, Liatris, Aster, False Indigo, Poppy-mallow, Stella Dora Day Lily, Cup Plant, Butterfly Weed, Thalictrum, among others
5. Plant Orientation is important!
When we planted the flowers, we made sure to clump them by species and color. This makes the colors easier to see and butterflies will be more likely to utilize them. Primarily, butterflies are attracted to red, orange, yellow, and purple flowers. Butterflies have been seen flying at altitudes of 11,000 feet. Thanks to glider pilots, we know this. So, they won’t have any trouble flying over the chapel and seeing the ideal place to stop.
6. Butterflies Need More Than Plants!
Providing a few flat rocks for sunning and some cool, shady spots for resting will help butterflies regulate their temperature. If an area is particularly windy, you can use larger shrubs as a windbreak. While not completely necessary to include, some butterfly gardens have bird baths or other water features that allow butterflies to “puddle” and obtain hydration and mineral nutrients. Birdbaths and benches also provide a sturdy, sheltered place for caterpillars to pupate. So far we’ve gotten a lot of rain, but this is our next addition to the Butterfly Garden.
7. Native Plants are a blessing!
Thankfully, native plants do not require much maintenance. Also, the more native species we plant in the garden, the fewer pests we will see. And, of course, we’ll see more butterflies. If you see some lightly-chewed leaves, no worries, as they’re usually a sign of an active, healthy butterfly garden.
Enjoy the Butterfly Garden!