With school starting back up again, it’s worth finding valuable after-school activities to do with your little ones. Starting a butterfly garden can be the perfect, early fall project to get the kids involved in the garden, interested in nature, and engaged in the great outdoors. Below are several butterfly garden ideas to get you started.
To set up a butterfly garden, pick an area of your yard that gets at least 6 hours of sunlight each day. Then, plan your layout. You can construct a raised bed or simply plant flowers in a mulch bed directly in the ground. Whichever you choose, make sure that all areas of the garden are accessible for easy watering.
As for which plants to include, it’s a good idea to plant several native wildflower species to support the local environment. Butterflies, hummingbirds, and bees will be instantly drawn to their sweet nectar. An important note is to make sure not to use pesticides or chemical fertilizers on the flowers so as not to hurt or deter the butterflies.
If you want butterflies to lay their eggs in your garden, you’ll need to also include host plants. For example, monarch butterflies only lay their eggs on milkweed plants. If you want to witness monarch caterpillars forming and emerging from chrysalises, make sure to plant milkweed in the garden.
Here are some other common butterfly host plants:
- Tiger Swallowtail: Cherry, willow, ash
- Zebra Swallowtail: Pawpaw tree
- Painted Lady: Aster, hollyhock, ironweed
- Question Mark: Sugarberry, nettle, hackberry
Once you add your plants, it’s time to choose charming decor pieces to accent your garden. Ideas include a bird path, flower arch, garden bench, and stepping stones. To attract even more butterflies, consider laying out a cute saucer of ripe fruit every once in a while.
Lastly, once you have the garden set up, you can enjoy the bright and beautiful colors of the flowers and visiting butterflies together. To help make the garden an even more exciting experience, here are two activities to print out and complete with the kids.
This butterfly and caterpillar coloring sheet from Angi will help kids practice their observational skills by coloring in and describing each butterfly they see.
This garden journal page will get the little ones more involved in the garden and can help teach them about caring for plants. Each week, you can check off which plants you watered and your new observations and goals for the garden.
With these activities, you’ll be able to enjoy your butterfly garden in a whole new way while making it a learning experience too. Happy gardening!