Butterfly Parks

 Butterflies are urban canaries indicating diverse natural habitats that support all sorts of beneficial pollinators. No butterflies equals poor urban habitat. Only one or two sightings or species means the habitat is lacking in many of the elements needed to support a diverse community. Here’s how to create a Butterfly Park in your backyard or community garden.

§  A Butterfly Park is an area planted in a sunny spot in your garden to attract butterflies (and other pollinators) filled with a variety of native perennial nectar and host plants.

§  Sure, you can plant annuals and sunflowers in a Butterfly Park. Just remember you will have to replant or replace annuals every year.

 §  Most native plants will tolerate weather conditions in the area and may be drought tolerant. You should, however, mulch the Butterfly Park to help retain water and keep the weeds down.

 §  Butterflies and the nectar and host plants they like need full sun. Place the Butterfly Park in an open, sunny location that has some wind protection.

 §  Butterflies need to be warm to fly. Place a large, flat rock or two in the Butterfly Park so they can sun themselves.

 §  Butterflies need water. Make a small depression in the Butterfly Park, lining the edges with rocks and adding a little water each day.

 §  To get your Butterfly Park started, we suggest a minimum area of 4’X4’ with 8-12 different plant varieties in 1 gallon pots but use as much space as you want and feel free to add more than one of each type of plant.

 §  Use 2 8’ 2’x4’s cut to 4’ lengths to make a border for your Butterfly Park. Just screw the corners together to make a square. This will delineate the area from the rest of the garden and keep people from trampling the flowers.

 §  Inside the perimeter of your Butterfly Park, dig out the grass and loosen the soil with a garden fork. Generally, no soil amendments are required for native plants unless your soil is very low in organic material. If it is, a couple of inches of compost mixed in will help. NEVER USE PESTICIDES IN A BUTTERFLY PARK!

 §  Think “miniature landscape” when you plan your Butterfly Park or use square foot gardening to imagine 2’ X 2’ squares each with a different type of plant, plant type, color, texture. Consider the size of mature plants and the angle from which most people view your park.

 §  Butterfly Bush, Butterfly Weed and Bee Balm make wonderful additions in the corner of your Butterfly Park. When placed in the corner, you can use the other ¾ of the park to highlight other plants that might be otherwise overshadowed.

 §  Unused tree pits can be perfect sites for a Butterfly Park, but like street trees, they may need some type of guard to keep dogs out.

 §  Label your plants, where appropriate, and you will increase the educational value of the Butterfly Park. Invite the local Public School to use the area as a field trip resource.

 §  If space permits, expand your Butterfly Park. Enjoy the Butterflies you attract to your garden and neighborhood by creating a wonderful habitat for them.

 §  Visit NYBG’s Bronx Green-Up Beginners’ Guide to Butterfly Gardening or Community Green’s Butterfly, Host, Nectar Plants for more information.


Article written by guest author:

Charles Vasser czvasser@yahoo.com 917.691.8037

Community Green Butterfly Parks www.communitygreen.wordpress.com

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