In this episode, Beverly Welch is joined by Angela Chandler from The Garden Academy. Bev and Angela are in the insectary garden to show you how to make a Butterfly Puddling Station.
– [Beverly] All you butterfly enthusiasts, we know you have the plants, the nectar, the larval. But are you ready to take it to the next level with puddling? Let us show you how. ♪ [music]
♪Hi. Welcome to The Arbor Gate. I’m Beverly Welch here in Tomball, Texas with my dear, dear friend, Angela Chandler of The Garden Academy. – [Angela] It’s great to be back out here, Beverly.
– We’re here in the insectary garden that we put together close to a year ago now, I believe.
– We did and it’s filling out and maturing so beautifully. It’s got gorgeous colors in it and you can see the insects coming in and out of it all day long.
– Well, I love it. But you know, one thing I wanted to ask you. With all the butterfly enthusiasm and, of course, the butterfly plants that we have here at The Arbor Gate, I’ve noticed one thing, that when it rains, all the butterflies seem to congregate around the puddles in the walkway where the crushed granite is. Why is that?
– You know, butterflies need moisture like all living things do. But in addition to that, they need minerals for their health. So they’re drawn to the moist puddles because all of that soil has a different set of minerals that they can sip while they’re sipping their fluids.
– Makes perfect sense. So unlike birds where we just want a shallow bowl of water, there’s a technique to make a puddle for butterflies in your garden?
– There is. We’re going to create an artificial puddle because the butterflies don’t need or want open water. So we’re going to kind of replicate what we see in nature along ditch sides and in your pathways here at The Arbor Gate.
– Well, you know, this is a perfect summer project for the family and not much is required.
– Not much is required. It’s easy to maintain. This can be a kids project for the summer. They can enjoy building it, then they can enjoy watching…
– I love it.
– …their butterflies all summer long.
– I love it. So we need a shallow basin birdbath or even something as simple as a saucer.
– That’s right. And it can be put on a block or it can just be settled down into the soil which is kind of how they naturally, you know, look for little puddles anyway.
– Sure. Sure. So we’ve got our birdbath here, and you just have some basic sand.
– What this is is just regular sand like we use for other garden projects. And sand doesn’t offer a lot of minerals so we’re going to add a little something to this to make it mineral rich. But the one good thing about sand which you can see even as we’re taking it out of the sack here is that it’s pretty good about maintaining moisture. And we don’t have to fill it up all the way to the top.
What we want is just something that when we do have rainfall or when we do fill this, that we don’t have more than about an eighth of an inch to a quarter of an inch of free water standing on top of the sand. So that’s your guideline for how far you actually want to go with it. So I think we’re pretty close to that right there.
And time will smooth it out but we’re going to start with it smoothed out. And then to add our minerals, there are a few things we can do. A handful or two of compost will work. Red salt, natural sea salts, will provide the minerals. But one of the good things about it and since we always have it on hand is that Arbor Gate Organic Blend also has a good mineral package in it.
And even though it seems kind of silly to us, insects are often drawn to manures when it has a little bit of that base in it too. So we don’t need a lot. We just need a little to get it started. As soon as we add water, all of those minerals are going to disperse into the sand and butterflies are going to get everything they need.
– I love it. Another use for Arbor Gate Blend.
– It really is. How about we get it charged up?
– Okay. Perfect. So tell me when. So I’m going to just slowly add some water here.
– Yeah, just slowly add. Like I said, it’ll settle itself in and get a good level. And just as long as it’s thoroughly moist, they’re going to be attracted to it.
– Okay. Perfect. I don’t want to put too much.
– No. I think we’re in good shape right there.
– That’ll do it.
– This is kind of what they’re drawn to in nature and now we can kind of draw them to our own gardens for the same purpose.
– I love it. Now I noticed you brought a rock over too.
– I did. If you have a deeper container and you fill it with something like sand or gravel and then put your mineral package in it, if you want to leave one little corner of it where you don’t have the sand where you can take care of bees and other insects in addition to your butterflies in one container, you can always push this sand over, leave open water in that corner.
But even then, the bees want something to land on. So we would modify our container. Maybe even put a few rocks there to hold that in place. Put the rock there and then when we do have liquid water, the bees will actually land on this porous rock and they’ll go down to the edge of the water to sip.
So they don’t get in the water, their wings don’t get trapped in the water. And it’s kind of cute. Sometimes you’ll see a whole little row of them, the little girls there, just sipping from the water.
– I love it.
– I see bees in my containers every day.
– I love it. Now we also have another smaller saucer and a banana.
– We do. Because butterflies love the sweet fruits. So if you have overripe fruit, bananas, grapes, citrus, apples, anything that’s gone to a little bit past where we would want to eat it but it’s really good for them to have those ripening sugars, we can also…return this to a good level…can sit a little smaller tray in it and then put fresh fruit in there on a pretty regular basis.
Just keep an eye on it. It’s going to attract a few other insects. You might even see some beneficial wasps sipping out of it. But the butterflies definitely are going to be attracted to the overripe fruit.
– So this is not something we want to change daily. Actually, when it starts decomposing, you’re putting the gases, it’s unattractive, right?
– Yeah. When it gets to the point that we would never want to eat it, it’s just perfect for them.
– That’s wonderful.
– It’s a good way to recycle that waste too.
– I love it. So how quick, easy, simple this was. And I can’t wait to see the activity that shows up.
– So true, Beverly. And it’s going to stay like this…or keep it all year long. We do have butterflies that stay with us over the winter so it’ll be something that they can get everything they need and you can enjoy watching them.
– Thank you, Angela. ♪ [music] ♪