Gardening Tricks That Work: Water for Butterflies to Alight

Posted by on July 8, 2014

As I travel for work scouting and writing about gardens for books and magazines, I come across many great and useful tips and tricks I learn from other gardeners. Not every detail of these great gardens make it in a story, so this column on my blog, Gardening With Confidence, is a place for me to showcase some of these great ideas. ~Helen Yoest

When a butterfly comes to my garden, Helen’s Haven, my heart sings. Since 1997, I’ve gardened for the wildlife on my half-acre Raleigh lot. It’s easy to garden for the wildlife–all you have to do is provide what they need and sustain their needs, and when then visit, they will also stick around. One of the main features of a wildlife habitat is water. There must be at least one water source to sustain a wildlife habitat. I like having multiple water sources, at different heights, so more critters can have access, and this includes a special set up for  the butterflies. Since butterflies need very little water, and a regular sized birdbath is hard to access, add gravel to the bottom of your birdbath to bring up the height of the water source.

This way the butterflies will alight the gravel for a safe sip of water.@Helen Yoest Click to Tweet!

Here is an example from my friend, C.J. Dykes garden where he used a shell was the base with added gravel. Butterfly water

WATER Water is essential for drinking and bathing, and a clean, reliable water source is important to creating a good habitat. A wildlife garden must have a water source to sustain the birds, bees, and butterflies. Once you attract the wildlife to your garden, you also want to keep them there. Provide all their needs so they will stick around. The water source doesn’t have to be elaborate. Yes, it can be as large as a creek or pond, but even a simple birdbath will suffice. Add multiple locations, at varying heights, to attract a greater variety of wildlife. Don’t forget about your wildlife in the off season. It is important to provide water year-round, even in the winter and especially during times of drought.


Helen Yoest

2 responses to “Gardening Tricks That Work: Water for Butterflies to Alight”

  1. Stephen Lamphear says:

    I keep several water options available as they meet the needs of wildlife in my Seattle garden. Birds, bees, butterflies, snakes and other denizens of the natural world find shelter, food and water without threat of herbicides or pesticides.

    To a very large degree, we have lost connection with the real world – even ‘gardeners’ are frightened of it.

    It’s fun for me to watch visitors run screaming when they see a harmless garter snake. If visitors start swatting at bees, I ask them to leave.

    My mother often told me to ignore the bees ‘cuz they’re not interested in me — I’m not as sweet as I may think…!

  2. Carole West says:

    I love this idea and blessed to have so much wild life roaming through my garden. Love the comment about the bees – I use to be afraid of them until I realized how peaceful they are while they’re working. I enjoy working in the garden with them, it’s calming.
    -Carole at GardenUp green

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