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Butterfly and Bee Gardening  

tiiger swallowtail butterflyButterfly gardening is a great way to provide food for butterflies, pollinate plants, and enjoy watching them fly about. The satisfaction that gardeners receive from observing butterflies and other wildlife in their gardens is a great reward for their gardening efforts. A butterfly-friendly garden is attractive not only to butterflies but also to bees, hummingbirds, and other pollinators.

The destruction of natural habitats has encouraged avid gardeners to grow native plants that are particularly attractive to butterflies. To support butterfly populations, you need to provide plants that are good sources of the nectar that butterflies sip. The garden also needs adequate sunlight, shelter, and mud puddles, which butterflies often visit.

Plant selection is the most important part of any garden. Butterflies see a broad range of colors including shades of red, yellow, orange, pink, purple, and lavender. They also see ultraviolet light and use flower petal patterns as guides to the nectar source. They prefer clusters of tubular shaped flowers or larger flat flowers that can support their weight while feeding on nectar.

Plants such as Aster, Echinacea (Purple Coneflower), Milkweed, Joe-Pye Weed, New York Ironweed, Goldenrod, Dogbane, and Agastache are all great native butterfly plants. Using native plants is important because cultivars are bred for attractive features, but lack the nectar desired by butterflies.