Kelly Lehman is the owner of Cranbury Fields Flower Farm and shows everyday gardeners how to grow amazing flowers on her Youtube Channel.
Butterflies love having nectar, but they often can't get enough of it from the flowers that you have in your garden if they're out of season or there are other pollinators that they're competing with. Luckily, you can encourage butterflies to come to your garden by providing some simple foods from your kitchen.
How to Make a Butterfly Feeder
- Install a hanging planter stake (often called a "shepherd's hook") in your garden.
- Rig it to suspend a plate.
- Put overripe fruit or a small bowl of honey water on the plate.
- Fill the plate with water.
- Remove the plate at night and replace it in the morning!
It's important to make sure your butterfly feeder is not on the ground, but sometimes the ants will still travel up those little stands. If they do, the water in the plate is going to act as a moat. So instead of having ants crawling all over the fruit or honey, they're going to wind up getting trapped in the water or they're just going to turn around and go home.
What Do Butterflies Like to Eat?
Butterflies have a wicked sweet tooth, so if they can't get enough nectar from the plants in your garden, they may appreciate a sugary alternative.
Butterflies enjoy getting nectar from overripened fruit, using their proboscis to suck out the fruit juice like they would with the nectar of a flower. A few of the fruits that butterflies particularly enjoy are:
- orange slices
Decaying fruits have carbohydrates and minerals that a lot of butterflies love. So next time you have a piece of fruit that's gone a little soft, consider cutting it up for your local butterflies rather than tossing it in the compost.
Another treat that butterflies absolutely love is honey water. I like using honeycomb from my honeybee hive, but I know that's not always something that people have on hand. You can just use regular honey from your local grocery store.
Whichever you choose, dilute it with some water in a small dish to create a beautiful butterfly meal.
When to Feed Butterflies
It's a good idea to put these decaying fruits in your garden during the day because butterflies love to come out when there's lots of sunshine. They're attracted to light, so they'll do most of their feeding in the morning and in the afternoon before finding a good hiding place to sleep during the night.
Remove Feeders at Night to Avoid Unwanted Visitors
You'll want to make sure that you remove those foods from your garden at night. If you don't, you may wind up having some visitors like raccoons and other animals that are interested in an easy snack. So I recommend removing your butterfly feeder from the garden at night and replacing it with some new fruit in the morning.
Enjoy Your New Garden Friends!
Your butterflies might even start getting so comfortable that they'll wind up landing on your shoulder. This doesn't happen often, but when it does, it's pretty magical.
If you can't get enough of your new friends, here are some more tips on how to attract pollinators to your garden as well as a few gorgeous late-blooming flowers beloved by bees and butterflies.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2021 Kelly Lehman