Sunday, September 9, 2012

Create your own butterfly garden at your home - plant a Buddleja

I grew up in a family where money was limited and so a lot of the fun on weekends meant walks in the woods and looking at trees and animals. One thing I remember growing up was a butterfly bush in our garden. I grew up waiting each Spring for the first butterfly to come and then spend most of the Summer looking at the butterflies feeding off the Buddleja. So in 2010, the first shrub I purchased and planted in my yard  was a small Buddleja shrub. The seedling was less than $5 at Aldi and was about as tall as my hand, but it grew nicely and is now the perfect size to complement the Crape Myrtle in the garden.
copyright Durhamonthecheap - my frontyard with Buddleja and Crape Myrtle
So this whole year, the butterflies have been regularly visiting the frontyard. In addition to attracting butterflies, the Buddleja also gets visits from bumblebees, regular honeybees as well as hummingbirds. It has been so much fun watching all the animals feed of the shrub and to think that I spent so little money on the shrub. The Buddleja is very easy to maintain. It does not require a lot of water and can grow in almost any soil. I add mulch every spring and then cut the Buddleja every fall to about half its size. It will grow so much denser next year and will bloom from about May through September. I have a light purple one, but they are available in other colors, including white. Besides being pretty to look at, they have a very distinct and strong scent.
This year I have seen Swallowtails, Baltimore Checkerspots and Monarchs. If you want to start your own butterfly garden, you can buy a Buddleja or be fancy and get a lifecycle kit for Monarchs from All A Flutter, a monarch farm near High Point that actually breeds Monarch butterflies. Their lifecycle kits (see here for a description and image) are a combination of two plants with butterfly eggs present. You can see the larvae develop into butterflies and then continue to attract Monarch butterflies using the included milkweed shrub, which is a perennial. Or you can go simple and pick up a Buddleja shrub at your nearest garden center and wait a couple of years until it reaches a good size, then start to enjoy butterflies and all kinds of useful critters visit your garden all summer long. For more information on Buddleja, you can check out Wikipedia here.

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