Butterfly Garden Kit
A garden kit is a collection of plants pre-selected by our nursery to make gardening goals easy. They can be used as a quick way to start gardening native without having to research 100+ plants to decide what might be right for you.
When it comes to our many species of butterflies, the adults have options for nectar. Most can even drink from non-native flowers to some extent. But when it comes time to lay that all-important egg, only certain plants will do. Sometimes only a very specific type of plant can serve as caterpillar food for a particular butterfly. If the host plant for the caterpillar is absent, feeding the adults will accomplish little.
This kit contains as many host plants for as many UP butterflies as we could identify and include. It also contains a colorful variety of nectar plants that will signal the presence of butterfly-friendly habitat to adults and other pollinators. This kit shows love for all the butterflies - even the little ones like Azures and Skippers.
The Butterfly Garden Kit is designed for average garden soil and full to part sun. It will contain one shrub seedling (Cinquefoil or New Jersey Tea) and 2 to 5 of each of the other species. A typical kit would contain the following mix of plants, but one way we keep the per plant costs low on garden kits is by reserving the right to substitute plants based on our current inventory. Your kit is likely to differ from the list below in exact species, however, the plants included will meet the stated goals of the kit, in this case, host plants or nectar plants needed by butterflies*. If you need specific plants for your garden goals, you can supplement your garden kit with quarts:
- Sunflower, Tall or Paleleaf - for Checkerspots
- Golden Alexander - for Black Swallowtails
- Pussytoes, Prairie Sage, or Pearly Everlasting - Painted and American Ladies, and nectar plant for Azures
- Northern Heart Leaf or other Aster - for Crescents and Checkerspots
- Flat-top Aster - Harris’s Checkerspot
- Swamp Milkweed - for Monarchs
- Blazingstar, Northern, Prairie, or Rough - favorite nectar plant
- Little Bluestem or other native grass - for Skippers, Ringlets, Dashes, Wood-Nymphs, and many others
- Turtlehead - for Checkerspots
- Shrubby Cinquefoil or New Jersey Tea - for Dorcas Copper or Azures & chrysalis support
- Butterfly Milkweed - for Monarchs
- Violets - for Fritillaries
- Lupine - for Gray Hairstreak & Blues
- Sedge, Pennsylvania or other sun-tolerant sedge - for Crescents, Skippers, Dashes, and Browns
All of these plants are potentially the host plant for Harvester butterflies. Harvester caterpillars do not eat plants, they eat wooly aphids! Keep in mind that aphids provide food for many creatures while rarely killing their host plant. If possible, let them live on your plants and see what shows up. It might be an insectivorous Harvester butterfly caterpillar.
One thing this kit does not include are trees. Many butterflies not represented in this kit host on native trees and shrubs - local varieties of willow, ash, oak, aspen, maple, dogwood, etc… Some of these trees also flower, providing nectar for early-rising butterflies that overwinter as adults here in the UP. Make sure to choose native trees when adding new landscaping, and preserve the native trees you already may have. Another category not represented in the kit are bog plants. A number of butterflies specialize hosting on bog plants, so protect your local wetlands.
If substitutions to the kits are necessary, they may include Cutleaf Coneflower, Dogtooth Daisy, Western or Early Sunflower, Pale Agoseris, Stiff or Showy Goldenrod, Black-eyed Susan, Pale Purple Cone Flower, Evening Primrose, Rock Harlequin, or others. These plants are also recommended if you wish to expand your garden kit. We are working on growing out a few more excellent butterfly host plants, such as Canadian Milkvetch for Blues and Angelica for Black Swallowtails. When these are ready, they will be added to the kit mix.
This economical kit includes 38 plugs that fill 38 square feet at 1-foot spacing - a 4'x9.5' bed; or up to 86 square feet at 1.5 sq. ft. spacing - a 6'x14' bed. If you need to buy two kits to fill your space, check out our "buy one, get the second identical kit for $25 off" deal.
Each kit comes with a planting guide and instructions for creating a butterfly "puddler". The plants are individually tagged for identification and all tags include height so you can alter the layout to suit your space. Note that the picture is an example of our plants in a plug tray garden kit. We don't have pictures of this actual mix yet and it will differ from the picture.
How is this different from the Monarch Way-station kit? This kit has less Milkweed. The milkweeds that are included are of use to other butterflies as nectar plants, while still providing some host plant opportunities for Monarchs. Instead of being focused on nectar plants for Monarchs, everything else in this kit is the host plant for some other species of butterfly (and also moths). The one exception is Blazing Star. I haven't found any butterflies that host on them, but every native plant is a host plant for something, and butterflies love Blazing Stars for nectar.
*Host plants were identified using Butterflies of Michigan, Field Guide, by Jaret C. Daniels, 2005, the National Wildlife Federation Native Plant Finder, and many internet sources