South Africa is home to a rich diversity of wildlife, and with a few simple steps, you can transform your garden into a haven for birds, butterflies, and bees (especially now in the cold season). By attracting these beautiful creatures into your space, you not only enhance the natural beauty of your garden but also contribute to the preservation of local biodiversity.
Let’s explore some ways to boost your garden’s biodiversity and introduce some exciting DIY projects along the way! Let us know on Facebook or Instagram which one of these you will be trying out?
Native Plants for Wildlife
One of the most effective ways to attract birds, butterflies, and bees is by incorporating native plants into your garden. Indigenous plants are adapted to the local climate and provide a familiar food source and habitat for local wildlife. Choose a variety of flowering plants that bloom at different times throughout the year to ensure a continuous supply of nectar for pollinators. Start with these classics:
- Blue lily aka Agapanthus aka Aggies Panties
- Lion’s ear aka Leonotis leonurus
- Hottentot-fig aka Carpobrotus edulis: a ground-creeping plant with succulent leaves.
Creating Wildlife Habitats
To encourage birds to visit your garden, provide them with a safe and comfortable habitat. Hang birdhouses or install nesting boxes in suitable locations. Research the nesting preferences of different bird species in South Africa to design the perfect accommodations.
Additionally, leave patches of your garden wild with dense vegetation, shrubs, and trees to serve as shelter and nesting areas. A great way to repurpose your pet’s hair after a good ol’ grooming session, is to clump it together and store it in wire box or any container that is easy for birds to visit and pull-out fur to add to their nests. Nice and cosy for the winter nights. If you’re cold, the critters are too!
Water and Food Sources
Birds, butterflies, and bees require access to clean water for drinking and bathing. You can provide that. Install a birdbath or a shallow water source with stones for perching. Ensure it is regularly filled and cleaned (keep an eye out for mozzies breeding in standing water though).
Supplement natural food sources by placing bird feeders filled with seeds and nuts. Be sure to clean and refill them regularly to attract a variety of bird species. Birds like Loeries (lekker kwêvoël), love fresh fruit and will hop on down the branches to visit a spread of sliced citrus and apples.
To attract butterflies, incorporate plants that provide nectar for adult butterflies and host plants for caterpillars. Nectar-rich flowers like butterfly bush, lavender, and zinnias will entice butterflies to visit your garden.
Caterpillar host plants such as milkweed for monarch butterflies or citrus plants for swallowtails will support the complete life cycle of these delicate creatures. Butterflies also love a small spread of sliced fruit to suckle on, just make sure to discard any leftovers in your compost before it starts to rot.
Bees are vital pollinators and play a crucial role in maintaining healthy ecosystems. Create a bee-friendly garden by planting flowering herbs, wildflowers, and native plants. Avoid using pesticides and herbicides that can harm bees and other beneficial insects like ladybugs.
If you think having your own hive is the bees’ knees, then you are a local hero! The more the merrier as bees are essential for our livelihoods. So, once you’ve installed a small beehive, you can track the activity and health of your hive with neat devices like this HivePulse tracker. We love it, honey!
Bird Feeders and Beyond
Get creative and make your own bird feeders using recycled materials. From pinecones smeared with peanut butter and birdseed to repurposed plastic bottles filled with nectar (hummingbirds absolutely love these!).
By incorporating these wildlife-friendly practices and engaging in DIY projects, you can create a vibrant garden ecosystem that supports South African birds, butterflies, and bees.
This winter, enjoy the mesmerising sight of colourful butterflies fluttering by, the melodious songs of birds, and the important role bees play in pollination. Start your journey toward a wildlife-friendly garden today with Garden Master, and let nature thrive in your local and lekker backyard space. We can’t wait to see your progress snapshots!