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Build Your Own Butterfly Garden with Tips from Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival

Eric Darden

by , Area Manager, Horticulture, Walt Disney World Resort

One of my favorite things at Epcot during the International Flower & Garden Festival is the Butterflies on the Go garden in Future World, where you can see up to 10 colorful species of butterflies. Some mornings, when the butterflies emerge and their wings are drying out, I like to show kids how to hold them on their fingers so parents can get pictures – it’s a really special moment.

Want to try creating a butterfly habitat that you can enjoy at home? It’s easier than you might think.

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  • At your local garden center, find native plants with nectar-producing flowers like butterfly bush and canna lily. Make sure that you have several different species to insure something is always blooming. These plants vary depending on where you live.
  • Plant blooms of different colors, as different butterfly species are attracted to different colors.
  • Though many butterflies love the sun, some species do like shade, so it’s a plus if you can create a mix of sun and shade in your garden.
  • For best results, you’ll also want to provide plants where butterflies can lay their eggs. Most butterflies are species specific when it comes to laying their eggs. Monarch butterflies must have milkweed, Zebra Longwings (the Florida state butterfly) need passion flower, the Cloudless Sulphur lays eggs on Cassia plants, and Pipevine Swallowtails choose, what else? Pipevine!
  • Of course, once the eggs hatch, you’ll have caterpillars, which feed on plants. So if you want to have a fully functioning butterfly garden, you’ll need to tolerate some insect damage on your plants. It’s worth it!
  • Don’t forget that butterflies also need water. There are several different ways to provide water — even a birdbath can work. They often prefer a puddle on the ground, so consider creating a bare, low spot in the garden to keep wet.
  • Most important – never use insecticide, which will harm butterflies!

It’s not too late to visit our Butterflies on the Go garden as we celebrate our final week of the Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival through May 17. Pick up more ideas, then start creating your own butterfly wonderland. Bambi would approve!

Comments

  • Thanks for the tips Eric. I just visited WDW with my wife for our honeymoon. Your butterfly garden was wonderful and I got some great pictures of butterflies and some dragonflies too :-).

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