Thursday, April 21, 2016

Butterfly Plants for Preschoolers

Everyone here loves butterflies!  We especially love to see them landing on our own plants, and wanted to put more plants that attract butterflies into our yard.  The problem is that a lot of butterfly plants (including milkweed) are toxic, and we have preschoolers and toddlers that put flowers in their mouths.  The solution is simple: we're using edible plants that attract butterflies!

Today I'm sharing five edible plants I love that are also supposed to attract butterflies. You can use garden planning time to talk about science concepts like life cycles and food webs or match concepts like space and measurements.  I have loads of math and gardening ideas here!  Let your kiddos pick out what plants they want to grow, record when they see butterflies, and taste their garden as it matures!  Pair planting with a life cycle or habitat discussion as you plan which butterflies you want to attract!

Here are five butterfly flowers that are perfectly safe (even edible!) for your preschoolers:

Plant #1: Yarrow.  Butterflies love the flowers and Painted Lady butterflies will lay their eggs on it!

Plant #2: Lemon Balm:  Easy to grow, delicious to steam (use it in a tea!), and a favorite of butterflies, lemon balm is a win-win garden plant!  And it has the added bonus of attracting White Peacock butterflies!  You may need to designate some plants to let flower to get your butterflies!

Plant #3: Sage:  Another super easy to grow plant with a strong, fragrant scent, sage attracts a variety of butterflies and other pollinators.  It is also a "host" plant (which means that butterflies will lay their eggs on it and the caterpillars that hatch will eat the plant) for at least three different butterfly species (including Swallowtails, Monarchs, Mourning Cloaks, Painted Ladies, White Coast Ladies, and Gray Hairstreak).  There are a ton of different sages, but Autumn Sage (S. greggii), Mexican Bush Sage (S. leucantha), Mountain Sage (S. microphylla), Pineapple Sage (S. elegans), and Blue Sage (S. leucantha) are all very popular for butterflies!

Plant #4: Lavendar:  I have always loved the smell of lavender, so it seems perfectly normal that butterflies would like it too!

Plant #5: Marigolds:  This is also a "nectar" plant, meaning that butterflies will land on it to drink the nectar, but not lay their eggs on it.  Marigolds do not provide a food source for caterpillars, but the are safe for your kiddos!  And they come in a huge range of colors!!  (Pictured are marigolds with a swallowtail on them!)

Do you plant plants for butterflies?  I'd love to know which ones!

Today, the Early Elementary Blogging Team is writing about flowers and gardens!  Check out these great learning ideas:

Garden Math Adding Money Free Printable at Life Over C's
Seed Sprouting Science Experiment at Schooling a Monkey
Flower Suncatchers at Parenting Chaos
Flower Garden: Reviewing Area & Perimeter at Line Upon Line Learning
Butterfly Flowers for Preschoolers at Preschool Powol Packets

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