Butterfly garden design advice

  • Creator
  • #58882



    During the lockdown I have been given a section of garden at my Grandmothers, in Dunedin, to design a butterfly sanctuary/garden which I will plant out next spring. I have been reading a lot about monarch butterflies and am hoping to do my little bit to try and increase their numbers.

    So far I have done lots of reading and have made the following conclusions:
    – I will need to plant things that will feed the monarch butterflies through all stages of their life cycle including swan plants for eggs to be laid on and caterpillars to eat and nectar producing plants for adult butterflies to feed off such as callistemon viminalis (bottle brush), hebe waireka, Viburnum tinus emerald beauty and a wildflower selection.
    – by clumping certain plants together, like the swan plants, it will make sure that if one plant gets stripped of its leaves there will be others close by for the caterpillars to feed on. Also by clumping nectar-producing plants monarch butterflies will find them better as apparently they are nearsighted. Also, flower shape is important as it allows them to land easier. I need to try and get a range of colour, height and flowering periods.
    – My garden will need to have areas of shade and areas of shelter from the wind.
    – my garden will need to have a water source.
    – my garden will need to have a small area for the butterflies to ‘sunbathe’ in and dry off their wings.
    – I am also looking at hanging a few wasp traps to try and protect the butterflies and caterpillars from wasps. Do you think this is a good idea? If so, do you have any recommendations for bait as I don’t want to trap bees by mistake.

    I have a few questions that I’m hoping you might be able to help me with. Firstly, do you think that the plants I have chosen are appropriate for both attracting and feeding monarch butterflies throughout their life cycle but also for growing conditions in Dunedin as that is where my garden will be? Do monarch butterflies need clean water to drink? If so, how often should I be changing their water? Also, I’ve heard of people putting out fruit and/or sugar syrups for adult butterflies. Is this something I should consider doing? Do you do this all the time or just when the nectar-producing plants aren’t flowering?

    Thanks in advance

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  • Author
  • #58885


    Hello JM and welcome,

    We have an on-line course which answers all of your questions and it’s on special at present. A lot of what you read is for overseas species, so you might prefer to do the course which has been put together for New Zealanders.

    Butterfly Gardening/Habitat Course

    Also, we are in the throes of putting together a one-hour on-line seminar which will be in an e-news coming out soon.

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