Butterfly Gardening in Ottawa

What is the first thing that comes to mind when you think of your favourite garden? It’s probably some sort of colourful flower or unique foliage that pops into your head. Hold that image in your head, and then imagine a beautiful little butterfly flitting through your garden, making the picture complete! Keep reading to find out more about what plants are good for butterfly gardening in Ottawa.

Monarch Butterfly feeding on nectar of an Asiatic Lily used in Butterfly gardening in Ottawa.
Monarch Butterfly feeding on the nectar of an Asiatic Lily.

So how do you go about attracting these unique creatures to your garden oasis, you ask? Well you just have to think like a butterfly! Butterflies are attracted to plants for a couple reasons; they want food (nectar), or they need a specific plant to lay their eggs on. To lure these eye-catching insects to your yard, you can plant brightly-coloured nectar-filled flowers, and also “host plants”. Host plants attract female butterflies to come and lay their eggs on. Host plants tend to be different for each species of butterfly. This is because caterpillars can be picky eaters, so their mothers make sure to lay their eggs on the plant they know their babies will eat!

Giant Swallowtail butterfly feeding on the nectar of coneflowers used in butterfly gardening in Ottawa.
Giant Swallowtail butterfly feeding on the nectar of Salsa Coneflowers.

Butterfly Gardening provides a Buffet for Butterflies

There are many beautiful flowers that thrive as perennials in our climate here in Ottawa, and that also provide sources of nectar to our local butterflies. Here are just a few plants that are often included in butterfly gardens and are sure to attract hungry butterflies to your garden:

Blue Delphiniums provide a source of nectar for butterflies and are often used in butterfly gardening in Ottawa.
Blue Delphiniums provide a source of nectar for butterflies.
    • Joe Pye Weed;
    • Yarrow;
    • Coneflower;
    • Verbena;
    • Bee Balm;
    • Phlox;
    • Delphinium;
    • Butterfly Bush, and
    • Blazing Star.

 

Compton Tortoiseshell butterfly basking on its host plant; a White Birch tree.
Compton Tortoiseshell butterfly basking in the sun on its host plant; White Birch.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Place to Lay her Eggs

While feeding the butterflies is important, if you want to cover all your bases to attract them to your gardens when planning your butterfly garden. Consider planting one or two host plants. Host plants that are suited to a flower garden include any species of milkweed, or “butterfly weed” as it’s commonly called, which will attract Monarch Butterflies. Also, a common herb found in many people’s gardens, Dill, is the host plant for the Black Swallowtail. Examples of some trees and shrubs that act as host plants for butterflies include:

    • Poplar trees (Mourning Cloak, White Admiral, Viceroy);
    • Dogwood shrubs (Spring Azure);
    • Cherry trees (Eastern Tiger Swallowtail), and
    • Elm trees (Question Mark).
Monarch butterfly caterpillar feeding on butterfly weed.
Monarch butterfly caterpillar feeding on the Monarch’s host plant; Butterfly Weed.

 

Let us bring the Butterflies to You!

Alan’s Landscaping Heather’s Gardens offers garden design and installation services for butterfly gardens. Contact us today, if you would like to learn more about butterfly gardening in Ottawa and bring more butterflies to your yard. 

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