It’s time to talk about the butterflies and the bees. Do you remember the wonder you felt as a child spying a butterfly in the garden, being mesmerised by its beautiful colours and patterns? Or maybe cautiously marvelling at the stripes on a bee as it went about pollenating the flowers? These flying insects play an important role in the health of gardens, so it’s important to have them around. Use these tips to attract them to your garden and watch your plants flourish.
1. Plant the right colours
Butterflies have excellent colour vision and unlike bees, they can see the colour red. They’re attracted to big, bright blooms, so plant flowers that are red, yellow, orange, pink and purple. Perennial flowers are the best choice as they flower all year long. The shape of the flower is also important – butterflies like a flat surface to perch on to pollenate. Some great options for both butterflies and bees are marigolds (also great for companion planting) daisies, lavender, purple coneflowers and milkweed, which monarch butterflies are especially big fans of.
2. Favour natives
Butterflies and bees have a preference for native plants and there are plenty of natives that have lovely flowers that require pollinating. The benefit of planting natives in your garden means they’re better adapted to the Queensland climate, requiring fewer resources to keep them healthy. Australian native bees love bottle brush, lilly pilly, flowering gums, grevillea, tea tree, honey myrtle and more.
3. Ditch pesticides
Bee populations across the globe are in decline due to the use of pesticides used in agriculture. Butterflies are also susceptible to pesticides – particularly malathion, sevin and diazinon – which are deadly to them. Try out some of these tips for organic pest control instead of using pesticides.
4. Make a butterfly day spa
Butterflies like to have a rest in full sun, so place some flat rocks in your garden to provide warm spaces for them to take a spell. They also like ‘puddling’, which is where they sit in either damp soil or sand and drink a little water. To create spaces for butterflies to do this, fill a tray with some sand and fill with water so that it covers the sand. Ceramic plant saucers make great dishes for this.
5. Provide a haven
Bees like to nest in gaps and knots in wood where they’re safe from predators and can keep out of the rain. So, if you’re a little handy around the house you can make your own bee shelter. Or, you can buy one from your local hardware store or nursery. Butterflies also like to be kept out of the wind, so houses and nooks for butterflies will see them stick around as well.
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