Planting Instructions

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This article will teach you how to plan and plant a butterfly garden.
by Brett · All Zones · Theme Gardens · 0 Comments · August 30, 2010 · 7,284 views

There are different methods for planting a butterfly garden and the plants that will go in it. Some folks say its best to till up the entire garden area, however, this can bring lots of buried weed seeds to the surface and also promotes invasiveness of certain types of perennial plants. Of course you can till the entire area if you like.

Below are basic guidelines and helpful tips for planting a butterfly garden in well-drained soil:

  • Start by trimming grass plants or weeds that are inside what will be the garden area to a height of about 2 to 3 inches.
  • Plot the perimeter of the garden shape out with marker paint, flour or a garden hose.
  • Spray existing weeds and grass plants inside the perimeter of the garden area thoroughly with a solution containing glyphosphate (Killzall or Roundup). Mix as directed on label. Always wear protective clothing and eyewear when spraying a chemical. Take a shower afterwards and wash clothes seperately.
  • Allow spray to dry for about two hours before planting plants.
  • After spray has dried, use a round point garden shovel to dig a trench about 4 to 6 inches deep around the perimeter of the garden, following your painted line.This will help to define your garden from any sorrounding lawn grass.
  • Before planting, arrange the perennials, and any other plants or trees you have purchased, in the garden. If you didn't draw out a plan, place taller varieties (48"' + height) towards the back of the border (or center if the garden will be viewed from all sides). Place mid-size plants (18-48' height) in front or nestled bewteen taller ones. Place lower plants or grouncover plants around the outside edge of the bed.
  • NOTE: When setting the plants out in the bed make sure to space them properly. If a plant grows 18 inches wide mark out a circle on the ground with an 18" diameter (orange marker paint works great for doing this.) Set the plant in the center of the circle. Also mark out areas where missing plants will be planted later when they arrive. After placing all of the plants, step back to take a look to make sure you have things set up the way you want. Make any final placement adjustments.
  • When you are satisfied that everything is in place, remove one plant at a time from its container and plant it. For planting, dig holes 2 to 3 times as wide as the container the plant came in. Mix in an good composted soil ammendment such mushroom compost, your own home-made compost, at a 50/50 ratio with the soil removed from the hole. Place plant in hole with the top edge of the root ball even with the ground level, or slightly above to allow for settling. Backfill around plant with soil mixture, tamping lighlty as you go to remove air pockets.
  • Give your newly planted perennials and other plants a good soaking when you've finished planting.
  • Mulch your new butterfly garden with a 4" layer of pine straw or 2" layer of shredded wood mulch. We prefer wood mulch at 2 inches deep as it provides a better barrier against weed growth.
  • Many of the plants that attract butterflies, such as lantana and butterfly bush, require little if any attention to watering once estanblished. But during the first summer, glance over all your plants every day to see if they need watering, but do not overwater. Whenever in doubt, use the finger test method to check for soil moisture.

The base of your butterfly garden is now complete.

TIP: During the first year or so, you might want to plant some annual bedding plants here and there in the garden for extra-added color. Use the Plant Search to find annual bedding plants that attract butterflies.


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