It’s never too late to start a butterfly garden on your Central Virginia property. Pollinator gardens, also known as butterfly gardens, attract a wide variety of bees, butterflies, and birds to your Richmond, VA backyard.
Why Start a Pollinator Garden?
Recent news articles and other media tell us that the honeybee is in danger. Why not participate in the solution of saving honeybees, bumblebees, sweat bees, and the like?
A pollinator garden will attract many varieties of insects as well as birds, such as the ruby-throated hummingbird. You’ll have birdsong, color, different plant shapes, and sizes to choose from for your butterfly garden.
You also want to plant flowering plants that blossom between early spring through fall. For example, deciduous trees, like the maple and oak, have buds that break in spring. It’s one of the early food sources for pollinators.
Additionally, blue aster that grows in the fall feeds pollinators before they overwinter or fly south for the winter. Here are five additional reasons to build a pollinator garden:
- Since butterfly gardens need flowering plants from spring through fall, you’ll have a wide variety of interesting shapes, bright colors and heavenly scents from the plant material in your landscape.
- You help pollinators survive in your local area, and you’re doing your part to preserve your local food web.
- You have a wide variety of plants to choose from, including coneflowers, black-eyed Susans, bee balm, milkweed, and Japanese euonymus.
- Did you know that butterflies are attracted to reds, yellows, and oranges? You want to include swamp milkweed and black-eyed Susans in your butterfly garden.
- Did you know that hummingbirds love reds, fuchsias, and purples? Bright red bee balm and purple coneflowers will attract hummingbirds to your pollinator garden.
Types of Plants to Include with Your Butterfly Garden
While some native, pollinator-friendly plants have already been mentioned, the website, Plant Virginia Natives, shares some other native plants to include in your garden.
Because native plants use less water, are acclimated to your local region, as well as can handle dry conditions better than non-natives. Plus, native pollinators prefer native plants over non-native ones.
Here are five types of natives to consider:
- Annuals, such as zinnias, salvias, and verbenas, will attract butterflies. The more abundant blossoms make landing on them easier for butterflies and moths.
- Perennials, such as common, purple, swamp, and butterfly weed milkweeds, as well as goldenrods, mountain mint, tall garden phlox, New England aster, and yarrow.
- Shrubs, such as St.-John’s-wort, elderberry, summer-sweet, meadowsweet, sumac, and devil’s walking stick.
- Vines, such as coral honeysuckle, passionflower, crossvine, and Carolina jasmine.
- Groundcovers, including creeping mint, violets, creeping phlox, moss phlox, and wild strawberry.
Host Plants vs. Feeding Plants
There are two types of plant media to consider in your butterfly garden: host plants and feeding plants. As you know from your schooldays, butterfly larvae or caterpillars, are the first step to becoming a butterfly. And butterfly larvae need food to grow and then turn into a chrysalis.
A host plant provides food for the caterpillars, and feeding plants provide nectar for butterflies and moths.
For example, monarch butterfly caterpillars only eat milkweed plants (the only host plant for monarch butterflies), such as common and swamp milkweeds. You’ll notice leaves with holes in your milkweeds as the larvae feed on it.
Feeding plants benefit the full-grown butterfly by providing nectar, the food that butterflies and other pollinators eat.
Providing a Vibrant Pollinator Sanctuary
You can have a small butterfly garden or a separate part of your landscape dedicated to pollinators. No matter the size, you do need to tolerate a little messiness. Most feeding and host plants are “weedy,” meaning they grow tall and start to lean at the end of the summer.
It’s also essential to provide a watering source for your pollinators, as well as to provide a home for other beneficial insects to live in, such as a hollowed-out log, twigs, and bare ground.
You can also buy pollinator boxes or mason bee homes, which are made out of wood and have tiny wooden tubes to allow pollinator insects to create nests and lay eggs. Your pollinator garden will thrive if it faces south and gets a good deal of sunshine during the day.
Also, a pollinator garden is a great way to teach science. Your kids or grandkids will see caterpillars feeding and growing on host plants. Plus, your kids will see chrysalises where the caterpillars hide to transform into butterflies.
You can teach your children that bees won’t sting unless provoked. Most bees and other stinging insects go about their business in a pollinator garden while you watch from the edges.
How BCLS Landscape Services of Central VA Creates the Perfect Pollinator Garden for You
If you’re new to pollinator and butterfly gardens, then you need BCLS Landscape Services to start a garden for you. You and the design team get to discuss how you want your pollinator garden to look like as well as find the perfect spot to build your new garden design.
If you’re ready for a butterfly garden on your Richmond, VA property, call us today at (804) 752-0052 or fill out our contact form.
Audubon Society Northern Virginia, “Gardening for Pollinators.”
LewisGinter.org, “The Best Plants for Attracting Butterflies in Virginia.”
LoveYourLandscape.org, “Planting a Pollinator Garden.”
Penn State Center for Pollinator Research, “Step 1: Provide Food for Pollinators.”
Plant Virginia Natives, “Planting Natives to Attract Pollinators and Birds.”