Welcome to autumn! September is actually a peak time for our friends, the butterflies. A butterfly garden is the perfect way to attract fall butterflies.
Butterflies can be seen into the fall and even winter in our South Mississippi climate. Butterflies are also pollinators, moving pollen from one flower to another, and fertilizing plants so they can reproduce. They are very beneficial to our environment.
Monarchs can be seen late in the year appearing around September in your gardens. Some other butterfly species you might see:
Butterfly flowers must be readily available to give our fluttery friends their energy.
According to The National Wildlife Federation, “Attracting butterflies involves incorporating plants that serve the needs of all life stages of the butterfly. The insects need places to lay eggs, food plants for their larvae (caterpillars), places to form chrysalides and nectar sources for adults.”
For example, plant milkweed to attract monarch butterflies. Milkweed is one of the most popular pollinator plants. It provides a place for adult monarchs to lay eggs and provides food. Remember the children’s book, The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle?
Even though some species of butterflies migrate, other species of butterflies will often stay in welcoming gardens, and many fall flowers will last until the first frost or even later.
Besides milkweed, there are a variety of fall butterfly flowers to choose from that will grow in the fall for our area (some of these are great for other pollinators like bees and birds as well):
Be sure and check with a local garden supply store to see what other fall-blooming flowers attract butterflies in our area. Having beautiful butterflies in your yard as long as possible is a great way to extend the season and keep you from thinking about the winter months ahead.
Planting a fall Butterfly Garden is environment-friendly! Be sure to take special care of your plants and flowers as you do your fall clean-up. It might be best to resist cleaning up your garden because you might disrupt the next generation of larvae or chrysalises that will grace your garden next year!
You can also receive a Butterfly Garden Certification! Just go to nababutterfly.com/butterfly-garden-certification-program on your computer. The North American Butterfly Association has a wonderful website with guidelines and information on how you can join and help our pollinators. This is a wonderful way to teach your children, too, how they can help nature survive.
As Always, Happy Gardening!
Gaye Winter, Ph.D., teaches English at Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College and is a member of Biloxi Garden Club.
Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.