Planting a Butterfly Buffet: You Can Grow That!

We love our butterflies...and our bees...and our praying mantis. In fact, we're pretty gaga about all of our garden's creatures, which is why our property is a no-spray zone. Everything we do in the garden is organic, and even then we try to be as minimally invasive as possible. If a product states that it's organic, we still try to think about the long-term impact it might have on our environment. Neem oil, which is organic, is only used under the most dire circumstances in the greenhouse--and never in the garden.

So, when I received a package from Jobe's Organics as part of the P. Allen Smith Garden2Blog event, I was thrilled. I've used Jobe's fertilizer in the past with great success, and I'm excited to test their soil that was included in the kit.

As one of the 20+ bloggers invited to P. Allen Smith's Garden2Blog at his farm home, Moss Mountain, the package of goodies came with a task: create a container planting using the Jobe's products, purchasing plants with the included $10 Lowe's gift card, then make a video of the process.

The pressure!

Seriously, I really enjoy being behind the camera far more than starring in a video, so I recruited Mikey to help me. After all, I thought it would be fun to incorporate gardening with kids into my project, and what better way to entice kids to garden than by creating a Butterfly Buffet?

Our kids are incredible nature nuts, as you all know if you've been reading the blog for awhile. In fact, one of my proudest moments involved a visitor to the garden who noticed our dill being devoured by caterpillars: "You'd better get some spray out," he told me, "or you're going to lose all of that dill." Kristen looked at the man like he'd just killed a kitten and said (with a bit too much spite in her tone), "Don't you know that we're organic?"

A proud Mom moment, for sure. (We did have a chat about manners later, though.)

Before we began planting, we drilled holes into the bottom of the container to ensure proper drainage, then added the Jobe's organic potting soil.

We mixed in some of the Jobe's container fertilizer as well--but not too much, as some of the plants are still small.

To create our Butterfly Buffet, we decided which host plants we wanted to incorporate:

milkweed for monarchs...


...and dill for anise and black swallowtails.

We purchased a lantana...

...and several calibrachoa to serve as the nectar plants to attract the butterflies.

Because I grow our herbs in peat pots, the entire pot can be planted in the container. First, though, tear off the top lip of the pot to the soil line.

I planted the lantana in the center as the "thriller" for the container, since it grows fairly tall, and placed milkweed on either side of it, as it should also grow tall. Next, I added the dill and parsley as the "filler," using curly parsley for a more ornamental look. Finally, we placed the calibrochoa around the edges of the container so they can "spill" over the side as they grow.

While I don't typically use many hot colors in the garden, the reds and orange flowers tend to attract both butterflies and hummingbirds. I hope it's the case for our Butterfly Buffet!

Finally, we gave the container a good drink and added a little sign to let the wildlife know our buffet is open for business!

Mikey and I placed the container on our balcony, where we can keep an eye out for visitors. We'll keep you posted if we find some caterpillars--fingers crossed!

The hardest part of the project involved making the video, which you can see: here.

As much as I talk, it was nearly impossible to cut the Instagram video to 15 seconds! You'll want to check it out--not to see me, but you have to see Mikey's talented nostril-flaring. Let's just say--I didn't notice his attempt to get Kristen to laugh (she was my camera girl) until after I posted the video. Ah, Mikey.

Honestly, this is a great project if you want to encourage kids to take an interest in gardening, or if you hope to attract and feed pollinators in limited space. While we have a lot of wildlife-friendly area, this little container provides a nice mini-habitat on our balcony for the kids to observe. A Butterfly Buffet? You Can Grow That!

Thank you so much to P.Allen Smith, Lowe's, and Jobe's Organics for providing the container, soil, fertilizer, and gift card. I'll post an update to let you all know how our Butterfly Buffet fares this summer!

Happy Gardening!