Butterfly Gardening

If you garden, you probably don't just want pretty flowers. Here are tips to bring in the wildlife -- butterflies, bees, birds, moths, and many other beneficial insects that support wildlife from the ground up.
  • Don't use pesticides. Don't use petrochemicals or artificial fertilizers.
  • Use native plants to your region. They are adapted to your climate, soil, and wildlife, and therefore when properly sited are nearly maintenance free and a boon to insects.
  • Those native plants? They bring in beneficial predator bugs within days, sometimes hours. Be patient. Let the ecosystem develop.
  • Those insects? Pollinate your vegetable garden, row crops, and are the only source of food for young birds. Songbird populations shrink every year due to habitat loss and fewer insects. One brood of chickadees will eat at least 4,800 insects during their few weeks in the nest. 
  • Plant favorite insect nectar sources by caterpillar host plants -- for example here in eastern Nebraska, Liatris ligulistylis next to Asclepias incarnata for monarchs.
  • Use a diversity of bloom types, sizes, colors. Use a diversity of plant heights and leaf textures. Use a diversity of plants -- perennials, shrubs, trees.
  • Plant thickly to preserve soil moisture and shade out weeds (and provide better cover for wildlife)
  • Leave your plants up for winter. They will collect snow and insulate themselves, but more importantly, provide homes for overwintering butterflies (mourning cloak), caterpillars (viceroy), chrysalis (black swallowtail), and countless other species. In mid to late March cut down the garden and use it as mulch.
  • Collect seeds from native plants, toss into containers full of soil in fall. Enjoy free plants in spring.
A lot of the below plants have a wide range, but since MtW 
is based in the central Plains we started from our home ground:
Nebraska Trees For Wildlife
Burr Oak
American Elm

Nebraska Shrubs for Wildlife
Viburnum dentatum (arrowwood vibunrnum)
American elderberry
Eastern Wahoo

Nebraska Perennials for Pollinators
Milkweed (Asclepias spp)
Mountain Mint (Pycanthemum virginianum)
Coneflower (Echinacea spp -- not hybrids or cultivars)
Culver's Root (Veronicastrum virginicum)
Joe Pye Weed (Eupatorium spp)
New England Aster (spp)
Smooth Aster (Aster laevis)
Stiff Goldenrod (Oligoneuron rigidum)

Nebraska Grasses (Drought Tolerant)
Side Oats Grama
Indian Grass
Prairie Dropseed
Little Bluestem

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