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Make a Butterfly Habitat in a Window Box

You can attract butterflies to your window by creating a small garden for them in a window box. If you provide warmth (a sunny spot), shelter (shrubs and trees), and nectar (masses of flowers from spring to fall), butterflies will feed and maybe even lay eggs there. They also appreciate a small mud puddle in a sunny spot from which to drink water and take up salts and other nutrients.

You will need:

  • Window box that will fit on the outside of your windowsill (or another container)
  • Potting soil (without pesticides!)
  • Shallow bowl or jar lid
  • Flat stones or small pieces of wood
  • Annual flower seedlings, such as marigolds, dwarf zinnias, globe amaranth, and petunias

What to do:

  1. Fill your window box with potting soil almost to the top.
  2. Nestle a shallow bowl into the soil. Fill it with a thin layer of soil, then add water. Keep this “puddle” wet at all times. Butterflies will use it to drink water and gather nutrients from the soil. Refresh it every two days or so.
  3. Transplant the flowers that you have chosen into your window box. Group several plants with the same type of flower together.
  4. Arrange some flat stones or small pieces of wood in the soil around the flowers for the butterflies to bask upon.
  5. Set your window box in a safe, secure place outside a window where you will be able to observe your new visitors.
  6. Water your garden regularly—especially the first few weeks after planting and when there are dry spells.
  7. Start a butterfly journal to identify the butterflies that visit. Draw or take photographs and try to find out the butterflies’ names using a field guide. Try answering these questions: Which flowers attract the most butterflies? What time of day do you see the most butterflies? What different butterfly behaviors can you observe?

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