One of my favorite planters to make is the Butterfly Oasis. Not only is it a beautiful and EASY planter to create, it is also fascinating to watch what comes to it! Expect to see some other winged pollinators such as hover bees, bumble bees as well as the odd Hummingbird.
I depending on the butterflies frequenting your area and the time of the season you are building this container oasis, you can tailor the plants specifically for your area. Be prepared…when you attract one life stage of butterfly, you inevitably attract the other…caterpillars. Make sure you can identify butterfly eggs and caterpillars of specific butterflies lest you squish them or soap them away.
I like to create both a spring and a summer butterfly planter as space is limited and I want to maximize the lure during each season.
For my spring butterfly garden I’ll plant milkweed, you can get the seeds from a number of sources now and you can start them inside in early spring/ late winter so they catch the early season.
I will also include violas, parsley, Heliotrope, Fennel, Wallflower, Chives, Flowering Currant, Dandelion (yes…generally I seem to get a few volunteers in each pot – mason bees like them too), the aptly named Delphinium ‘Blue Butterfly’, Sweet William and Creeping Phlox to name a few.
For my Summer Butterfly oasis, I have used:
- Tithonia (Mexican Sunflower…you can grow it from seed)
- Butterfly Bush and of course we do carry the sterile version
- Verbena bonariensis
as well as Zinnias (you want ones with a centre…not the full doubles), Asters, Hebe’s, Lavender, Phlox and Salvia and a perennial Fuchsia if I can fit it in.
Not only do butterflies sip nectar from plants, they also cluster around fermenting fruit and especially in the case of Male Butterflies, they cluster around mud puddles to absorb the minerals…especially the salt. I usually sink a saucer and fill with sand or mud and keep that section moist. I also add a pinch or two of salt and then toss an orange or some other fruit at the side…yes, you will get some bees and wasps around it as well. I’ll place a large flat warming rock as well and an old twisted branch for the butterflies or even the hummingbirds to perch. Make sure to keep your butterfly puddle or mud moist but not soaking wet.
Place your pot in the sun, where you will be able to watch it…especially if it’s near a spot where you can sit and catch up on your summer reading and enjoy! Grab a butterfly and moth book from the library and see how many of these flying art pieces you can identify!