An uncharacteristically warm fall and an early winter in 2017 not only shaved a few weeks off of our landscaping schedule, but it also could have been damaging to an already decreasing population of Monarch Butterflies. Dropping from a population of a billion at their peak to 33 million in 2014, issues like climate change and adverse weather conditions can have a profound effect on migration patterns and mating seasons. “But what can I do?”, you may ask, distraught and aghast at the thought of a world without butterflies. Plenty!
First, you can cultivate “host” plants. These provide shelter and egg-laying opportunities for adult butterflies. Monarch larvae feed exclusively on Milkweed, and though it’s not typically used for aesthetic purposes, it’s pleasantly aromatic and native to Manitoba. Other butterflies enjoy dogwoods, sedums, and violets. A list of the plants that suit each species of butterfly is provided at this link by our good friends at Jensen’s Nursery.
Second, add some nectar plants! These have a lot of aromatic flowers and provide essential nutrients for adult butterflies. Some examples of these include Lilac, Russian Sage, and Phlox. In our design for Dufferin School, our butterfly-shaped planter was filled with Russian Sage and Brown-Eyed Susans to attract as many butterflies as possible.
Inspired? Good! Even the smallest efforts on our end can amount to a big impact. That’s the butterfly effect in action!