Last week the kindergarteners planted their very own butterfly garden. Talk about excitement, these kids had a ball! Better yet, they’ll get to visit their handiwork every day in their very own outdoor garden space behind their classroom. It’s one of my favorite aspects of Montessori training. Not only do kids learn the basics of reading and math, they learn about cleaning and caring for their space and this includes their outdoor environment.
Caterpillars can eat through leaves at alarming rates which totally interferes with the life cycle of the veggie plant! Think: no growth. And no growth = no veggies! Very bad. But not to worry, our butterflies will be very happy in their new courtyard. Which plants will attract butterflies?
Glad you asked. Bright colors will attract the butterfly as well as sweet delicious nectar. And make it easy for them to find you by grouping your flowers by color (easier to spot from afar). Best colors? The brightest, of course! So be sure to include bright red, yellow and orange, pinks and purples, too.
Nectar plants are a must have in your butterfly garden but you can also include non-nectar plants like milkweed and daisies. Butterflies enjoy them and it gives them a place to lay their eggs. Another hint for success?
Keep your flowers close together if possible. It helps focus the attention of both children and butterflies. In our garden we chose the butterfly bush (for obvious reasons), orange and pink pentas, pink and purple petunias, orange-yellow crossandra, sunset gold lantanas and various shades of ixora.
Other good choices would be zinnas, marigold, coneflower, lilac, impatients and asters. Really hard to go wrong, just check what grows best in your area.
And get those kids involved. As you can see, kids are amazing when it comes to the garden and are quite capable when it comes to the business of transplanting so by all means, let them have at it!
With one simple instruction on how to dig a hole slightly larger than your flower container, gently pull the plant from free, supporting the stem with one hand and the root ball with the other, then placing it into the awaiting hole and lightly packing the dirt back in around it, these kids were ready for the garden show.
In no time we had this garden section filled with bright and lively color and do you know what? I bet we’ll have butterflies by the end of the school day. Now listen, don’t let this shady photo fool you. In Florida, afternoon thunderstorms are one of those things in life you can count on and this project accomplished as the last task of the day, but bear in mind most butterfly garden flowers prefer full sun. At least enough to stretch out and warm their leaves and attract our fluttering friends! But shade is good too–especially in our type of heat.
And speaking of heat, include some stones near your garden to capture and retain the sun’s heat–butterflies like soaking in the rays. They also like splashing in puddles so make sure you have a small “pond” nearby for them to drink up. After all, you don’t want them leaving this beautiful enclave for a water trip, do you?
No way! We don’t want them flitting anywhere but here. (Can’t wait to hear the stories of butterfly observation.) Now what are YOU waiting for? Get busy and send out the invites! You’ll have butterflies fluttering around your yard in no time.