You know your pup likes to tiptoe through the tulips (or trod as it were), and your kitty only has eyes for catnip. But you’re partial to flitting species that liven up your garden. We’ll tell you how to keep your flowers aflutter with our tips on what to plant to attract the birds and the butterflies, while making sure your pets are happy and healthy…
Whether you’re a city dweller with a petite terrace or a country lover with a spacious backyard, you can create an environment that serves as a beautiful home to certain species of wildlife, as well as a safe playground for your beloved pet. All it takes is a little gardening know-how and, of course, Animal Fair to give you a few greenery do’s and don’ts.
If you wish to invite butterflies to your garden the key is to offer them a drink (it works with friends too). In other words, you want to set out plants that are rich in nectar and provide homes for butterfly eggs. A butterfly lays approximately 1,600 eggs in its lifetime. These eggs develop into caterpillars that feast on host plants and create cocoons. Buddleja, or the butterfly bush, serves as an excellent host plant and makes butterflies such as mourning cloaks, painted ladies, and eastern tigers feel welcome in your personal botanical haven.
If you’d rather socialize with the ever-so-popular monarchs, plant asclepias aka milkweed (butterfly weed), which caterpillars actually prefer over many other green delicacies. Milkweed is packed with vitamins that equip premature butterflies with fighting power making them less susceptible to predators. It’s good for you too! It is easily grown from seed, is resistant to drought, showcases bright orange and yellow flowers from midsummer to early fall, and demands very little of your attention!
While planting your butterfly abodes, make sure to keep in mind that it is normal for pets to chew on greenery. Both cats and dogs enjoy eating greens because they clean their digestive systems, soothe teething, balance their nutritional deficiencies and even destroy hairballs. Keep your darlings happily chasing butterflies by steering away from rhododendrons (laurels, rose bay, azalea) and delphiniums. Though beautiful and excellent for breeding butterflies, these plants will put Fido in bed for quite some time. As a treat for your kitty, plant a little catnip in the garden. But don’t be surprised if your garden becomes a popular hangout for the neighborhood cats!
If you wish to attract birds, plant fruit-laden plants or shrubs like the red-osier dogwood. Your furry friend, however, would ask that you stay away from hollies-both evergreen and deciduous species, as they are considered quite poisonous. In order to keep birds singing your praises, don’t snip off dead flowers. They serve as an excellent source of nutrition for various birds and will keep them around through the fall. A cheaper alternative to buying birdseed is to crush up peanuts and put them in a hanging container or even spread them in your yard.
If you enjoy a hum over a chirp, add petunias, gladiolas or hibiscuses. Hummingbirds also enjoy many of the same nectar plants as butterflies, so the two can become friends over a nice lunch!
There are many other gorgeous flowers and plants that will keep all the animals in your life happy and healthy. You should consult your local garden center to see what plants that attract butterflies and birds will thrive best in your area, as well as suit your gardening abilities and tastes. Remember to always read labels on gardening products and keep an eye on your plant-hungry pup or feline.
* If you think your animal has ingested a poisonous plant, call the Animal Poison Hotline (APH), toll-free at 888.232.8870 or visit www.animalpoisonhotline.com. (There is an incident fee for this service.)
– Dayci Brookshire