Habitat Homes and Insect Hotels

Do you want to share your place with other critters?  Or perhaps you’re keen to convince a possum to leave your roof and head outside? Perhaps you need to provide some artificial habitat to entice all creatures into your garden. 

Butterfly Plants and other Beneficial Insects

More and more people are looking at ways to encourage beneficial insects into the garden. This needs a multi-pronged approach including planting a variety of flowers in colours, planting nectar and pollen rich flowers, and keeping your use of pesticides right down to the basics and being very aware of when and what you spray if they are used.

To encourage Butterflies into the garden, plant as many bright colours like red, yellow and orange as you can, especially easily accessed flowers with loads of nectar like Buddleias (below left), Pentas, Asters (below right), coneflowers, passionfruit, daisies and sunflowers.  At the Eden display gardens many of these are planted to help encourage biodiversity, but others you might want to try at home include the Brachyscome daisy, Rice flowers, Sunflowers, Globe Amaranth (below middle) even the Milkweed (Asclepias) to encourage the Monarch Butterfly.

If you’re trying to encourage butterflies, remember that they start off as caterpillars, so killing these in the garden will obviously be counter intuitive. The only ones that really cause problems in any significance are the Cabbage White Butterfly.  These can be kept at bay with cunning tricks like decoy butterflies, hand picking or in worst case scenarios using ‘Nature’s Way’ Caterpillar Killer, which is actually a stomach bacteria (Bacillus thuringiensis var. kurstaki) rather than poison and is safe for bees, ladybirds, birds, fish, mammals & pets.

If you’re thinking of planting of encouraging bees, you can’t go past Angelonia, which native bees find irresistible. Coleus (Solenostemon sp.) and other members of the mint and salvia families like rosemary and thyme are also delicious to pollinators and a favourite of blue-banded bees.

Read more about biodiversity in the garden and for advice on possums and how to discourage them from eating your plants, check out possum magic.

By: Meredith Kirton