While bees need little enticement (beyond a few flowers) to visit your garden, other helpful bugs & birds benefit from some coaxing. A garden pro shares the easiest ways to attract these natural beauties!
Why your garden loves them: Because pollen sticks to their legs as they flit from flower to flower, butterflies help both flowers and vegetables flourish – and help the gardener too (studies show that just watching butterflies lowers blood pressure)!
Invite them by:
- Making a mud pie! Male butterflies have a serious salt tooth, says Sharon Lovejoy, author of Trowel and Error. “They like to feast on the proteins and minerals in salt.” Just fill an 8”-10” wide plant saucer with a little soil, water and 1 Tablespoon salt, and put your ‘mud pie’ in a sunny area, because “butterflies are solar powered,” she says.
- Planting “pizza” herbs! Butterflies make a beeline to both colorful flowers (sunflowers, zinnias and butterfly bush) and herbs. So Lovejoy suggests you combine the two: Grow the herbs they most love- basil, oregano, rosemary and thyme and place sunflowers around them. Small butterflies will land on the herbs, while the sunflowers will entice bigger Monarchs.
Why your garden loves them: “Look at a hummer’s head,” says Sally Roth, author of Attracting Butterflies & Hummingbirds to Your Backyard. “It’s often dusted with grains of pollen, which are then transferred to the next flower it visits.”
Invite them by:
- Hanging a sack of scraps! “Fill a mesh onion sack with finger-length pieces of yarn – any color will do – and small feathers,” advises Lovejoy. Hang the sack on a tree branch and hummingbirds will “tug out your offerings” to use to make their nests!
- Feeding them right! They may look dainty, but hummers are champion eaters, consuming half their body weight every day! To feed them, make hummingbird syrup by combining ¼ cup sugar and 1 cup water and microwaving 1 ½ minutes. Use in a hummingbird feeder and change the solution every few days.
Why your garden loves them: Ladybugs devour harmful pests, including rose-ruining aphids; each adult can gobble up several hundred insects a day! The larvae of ladybugs also eat garden enemies, meaning that once ladybugs are in your garden, they provide continual protection!
Invite them by:
- Planting borage! In one Swiss study, gardens with the pretty blue herb- which can be planted in June- had the highest numbers of ladybugs! Other herbs ladybugs love? Dill, coriander, parsley and cilantro.
- Setting them free at night! Live ladybugs can be bought at your local nursery or online (INSERT HERE). Wait until evening to set them out. “If you release them during the day, they’ll fly away,” Lovejoy explains. To further ensure they linger, spray your garden with a solution of ¼ cup water and 5 ounces of sugar – “sweet leaves” lure ladybugs!
Entice praying mantises with berries! Praying mantises are natural bug zappers, feeding on pests like mosquitoes. They seek out shrubs- especially raspberry and rose bushes, which attract the aphids they favor!
Welcome fireflies with wildflowers! “Firefly larvae are voracious eaters of slugs, mites and cutworms,” notes Lovejoy, who says they seek the protection of tall wildflowers and bushy areas that are free of pesticides.
for more reading, check out:
Trowel & Error
Attracting Butterflies & Hummingbirds to your Backyard
article excerpted from Woman’s World