Sunday, April 18, 2010

Gardening with the Kiddos

Now is the ideal time to plant a butterfly garden! We all know that few kids will pass up the opportunity to dig in the dirt, plant flowers, and wait and see what new friends might come for a visit? Butterflies are all aflutter in the spring, summer and fall, and adding a colorful landscape will add delight and enticement to any Butterfly in his right mind looking for a place to land. This is a project that is not too difficult and depending on the size of the garden you plant can take around a day or two to complete.
Here's How:
• You will want to pick the perfect spot to entertain your butterfly guests. Choose a sunny location that is sheltered from wind.
• Find a couple of flat stones--dark colored ones that hold the heat of the sun are the best. Butterflies love to sun themselves after they have filled themselves up from a meal.
• Butterflies need water so make a small butterfly pond in the mud. You can also use a plastic lid from plastic ware or from a household item such as a butter tub or a round trash can lid.

Here are just a few plants that are known to attract Butterflies and sometimes Hummingbirds as well. There are many great resources on the web and at your local nursery that will list plants and shrubs that grow best in specific areas.
Butterfly Bush (Buddleia davidii) - a perennial that attracts butterflies, hummingbirds and bees with their large, fragrant panicles. The butterfly bush should be included in any butterfly or hummingbird garden. Butterfly bushes can grow 5 to 12 feet tall with a spread of 4 to 15 feet. The color of the flowers can vary, but the most common are purple, pink, white, or red. Butterfly bushes flower from June/July through fall. It is recommended that the bushes be cut back in winter to allow new growth in the spring months. Butterfly bush plants grow well in full sun and well-drained soil. The butterfly bushes are also drought-tolerant.
Lantana (Lantana camara), Trailing Lantana (Lantana montevidensis) - attracts all types of butterflies and hummingbirds. Lantana comes in a variety of colors including red, orange, yellow, purple or blue and white florets. Lantanas grow well in Zone 8 and higher.
Larkspurs (Delphinium) and Hollyhock (Alcea) - Perennial plants that can grow to 5 feet tall or more. Delphiniums are good for zones 2 - 9 and are available in a variety of flower colors. Hollyhock grows in zone 3 and has white flowers.
Sweet Bush (Bebbia juncea) drought-tolerant attracts all types and sizes of butterflies. It has yellow blooms spring through fall.

In addition to flowering plants for the butterflies, you'll want to provide food for larva like Mexican Milkweed or Passion Vine. To truly enjoy your garden you will want to make spot to sit and observe your visitors such as a bench, chairs, or a sitting area. This is also a great opportunity to break out your camera or get a disposable one and let your kids take pictures of their gardens and the various insects and birds that visit. You can also help them to create a scrapbook, collage or online photo album as a keepsake. The most important thing to remember is to have fun and make wonderful memories.

For more info on Butterfly Gardens visit:


~~louise~~ said...

Oh Stephanie, your timing for this post is just perfect! I was just saying in my latest post how I would love to start a garden with the grand kids when I visit this year. A butterfly garden is a fantastic idea. I don't know why I didn't think of it myself.

As a matter of fact, I have twigs of butterfly bushes rooting "as we speak." They were doing some trimming down the road the other day. When I stopped to visit, a woman came over to me with cuttings in hand and asked me if I wanted to root them. I jumped at the chance and lo and behold, they are flowering and growing roots! I may just sneak a few on the plane with me:) If you're interested in her tips for rooting, drop me an email. It's so easy!!!

Thank you again for this refreshing post...

~~louise~~ said...

Holy Hanna, Stephanie!

I was just going through my pages of email and found a note from you. I am SO sorry I forgot to write back. I think that may have been during the time I was off to Idaho.

How goes your garden?