Now that I have a good selection of flowers that contain the nectar on which butterflies feed, the next order of business is to add host plants where they can lay their eggs. The host plants become a source of food for the larvae that emerge from the eggs. Different species choose different plants on which to lay their eggs. I especially want to attract my favorites, monarch butterflies, with their vivid black and orange markings. They will lay their eggs only on milkweed. I also love yellow butterflies, such as sulfurs and tiger swallowtails. They prefer cassia bushes and trees, with their bright yellow blossoms. Since cassia trees grow quite large, I have chosen a bush.
In addition to nectar and host plants for laying their eggs, butterflies like a watering place, such as a birdbath or saucer. It is important to put some sand or dirt in the container and keep it wet. Some pebbles or small rocks where the butterflies can sun themselves is a nice addition. I found a large, heavy glass saucer with an attractive blue and brown swirling pattern. It is deep enough to hold some water and a few smooth rocks. I placed it on a decorative plant stand, which I anchored in the garden by means of some landscape pins.
The next step in preparing a butterfly garden is to nurture the plants, being careful not to use chemical insecticides. Then comes the most difficult part of all - waiting patiently for the butterflies to arrive.
~ Laura Allen Nonemaker
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