The Q&A Archives: Butterfly Garden And Vegetable Garden In Same Small Area?

Question: I was wondering if I am crazy to attempt this: I have a small,urban backyard (Approx 50' x 60') that I wanted to plan and develop a small butterfly garden and a small vegetable garden at different areas of the yard. Will I be further attracting the butterflies with their own "restaurant" for the caterpillars or am I just getting ahead of myself here?

Answer: Many gardeners successfully grow a very wide variety of plants in close proximity. One easy solution is to plant a few extra of the larval favorites. Keep in mind that butterfly gardens do very often include plants to serve as a larval food source (ie caterpillar bait) as well as inlcuding plants to serve as nectar sources for the butterflies themselves. In general, you might find caterpillars of the more attractive butterflies on, say, parsley, fennel and dill; tomato hornworms turn into sphinx moths; and of course, cabbage butterflies come from cabbage loopers. You can exclude loopers by covering susceptible veggies with light weight row covers -- and you would probably want to do that regardless because loopers are nearly everywhere even without butterfly gardens. Butterflies are very specific in terms of what they eat, and luckily not that many of them eat vegetables on a regular basis. As you research the butterflies in your area and look into butterfly garden plants, you will find that a wide variety of plants can be used. Enjoy your garden!

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