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Grow a Butterfly Garden

Age: Preschool and up
Time: An afternoon or more
Type of activity: Nature Arts and Crafts

Your kids will watch in wonder as flowers that they've planted become home to colorful butterflies.

Materials needed:
· Flowering plants or flower seeds
· Clean, empty milk carton
· Scissors
· Gardening tools
· A small garden plot, a few large planters, or windowboxes

What to do:

Step One: Butterflies like flowers that are fragrant, have large petals or blossoms, and require bright sunlight. These types of plants give butterflies easy access to their food: nectar from the flowers. Which flowers are best? Try giant swallowtail, prickly ash, swallowtail ash, violets, pansy, pearl crescent, asters, milkweed, ageratum, bee balm, bougainvillea, calendula, coneflower, dahlia, daylily, geranium, hibiscus, marigold, milkweed, snapdragon, yellow sage, and zinnia.

Step Two: Choose a location for your butterfly garden that has good soil and plenty of direct sunlight.

Step Three: Make sure the garden soil is moist, then begin to plant your plants or seeds (see seed packets for directions). Keep in mind that groups of flowers are easier for butterflies to migrate to, so plant your flowers in bunches.

Step Four: Lay some flat stones on the ground near your flowers. Butterflies will perch on the stones and bask in the sun.

Step Five: Next, you'll want to create a shallow puddle (or puddles, depending on the size of your garden.) This gives the butterflies a place to drink water and socialize.

To make the puddle, cut the top off the milk carton using your scissors, leaving the sides about 1-1/2 inches high.

Step Six: Now, clear a space in the garden for your "puddle." Put the carton directly on the soil. You can add a few stones to decorate the outer edge of the carton and keep it from blowing away. This will also give the butterflies other perches to rest on.

Step Seven: When the carton is secure, fill it with clean, fresh water.

Step Eight: Remember to water your garden regularly and keep any weeds and grass from crowding out the flowers.

Step Nine: Watch how your garden grows and attracts beautiful butterflies all season long!

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