Make a Difference Where You Live
Most everyone in their own way wants to leave the world a better place. Some strive for global changes; others contribute by improving life in their immediate surroundings. With just a bit of soil and sunlight you can make a positive contribution to future biodiversity by converting a patch of garden into a wildflower refuge for butterflies, bees and hummingbirds.
As reported widely in media, the Monarch population and the honeybee colonies are disappearing. Experts believe native habitat loss and the increased use of pesticides are major reasons for their decline. The grim news is a clarion call-to-action for gardeners. As stewards of our own backyard ecosystems it’s time to draw a line in the soil.
PlantButterflies.org has partnered with the Monarch Sister Schools Program and gardening centers to help raise awareness about the importance of planting native wildflowers to support native pollinators. As part of a growing coalition of concerned gardeners, environmental stewards, and native plant growers, we are taking small and large steps to preserve natural plant diversity in backyards, public parks, historic gardens, and along highways.
Cultivate Your Roots
The benefits of gardening with native plants are significant. Natives not only attract butterflies and other important pollinators, they add beauty to the landscape. They feed and house essential pollinators. They help conserve water, protect the soil, reduce lawn care, and save money on fertilizers and pesticides. By restoring a patch of lawn about the size of your dining room table you will see for yourself the advantages of going native.
Choose native plants that you know grow easily in your region and climate or ask your local garden center for suggestions. After the next rainstorm, remove encroaching weeds by hand from a 4’ x 6’ area and restore that section with native wildflowers to create an invasive-free zone. This modest parcel of land will become a safe haven for butterflies and other beneficial insects. Seeing their return to your garden will likely motivate you to expand your buffet of nectar-rich perennials to include milkweed, whose leaves and flowers are the sole food source for Monarch caterpillars.
Plant natives and the butterflies will come
Start before you’re ready. Click here for planting instructions. Begin with a group of 6 to 12 perennials to establish a foundational garden of wildflowers. Adrian Higgins, garden editor for The Washington Post, describes why and how to begin eco-gardening in his Local Living cover story - “Creating a haven for butterflies and bees.”
Attracting an abundance of butterflies, bees and birds is the sign of a healthy and diverse ecosystem. By choosing a variety of native plants well adapted to your environment, you will restore the natural balance that can support beneficial pollinators without the use of pesticides.
- Grow native wildflowers
- Provide a safe haven for essential insects
- Make a small difference in your corner of the world