My Journey to Creating a Monarch Butterfly Garden Part 1: The Butterfly Garden
Written by Lou-Ann Johanboeke
Master Gardener Volunteer
It all started about 2 years ago when I told my husband that I wanted to build a butterfly garden. We took a large corner of our back yard and dedicated it to the project. We decided to do mostly container gardening since the area had previously been full of trees and therefore old roots made it almost impossible to plant in the ground.
I found every plant imaginable that attracted butterflies and planted them in the garden. Then one day, someone told me that if I am going to have a butterfly garden then I need to have milkweed to feed them. You see, the ONLY plant a Monarch Butterfly will lay eggs on is the milkweed. They do this so that when the caterpillar hatches it has an immediate source of food.
Well, I purchased four plants from the Master Gardener’s Plant Sale. And low and behold there were 4 caterpillars on the plants. I planted the plants in the garden and would check on them a few times a day. The caterpillars were slowly disappearing. We got down to 1 and I decided that I had to do something or we would lose it too. I used a carrying cage we had for our bird and I put the caterpillar inside with a potted milkweed plant. As I was setting it up I found another caterpillar crawling on the ground. So we are off with two caterpillars.
The next several days were spent going around the neighborhood foraging milkweed. Boy, can these guys eat. Eventually, the caterpillars turned into chrysalis and then into beautiful Monarch Butterflies.
We purchased a lot more milkweed that year and over the next several months released about 25 Monarchs.
To be continued…
For more information about butterfly gardening in Florida, check out:
Butterfly Gardening in Florida: https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/uw057
Butterfly Brochures and Resources: https://www.floridamuseum.ufl.edu/discover-butterflies/brochures/