Creating your own butterfly garden is a very rewarding experience in so many ways. It provides you and your family a serene and tranquil setting to unwind after a hard day\’s work or the weekend, watching these butterflies fluttering around going from flower to flower collecting nectar.
Butterflies are attracted to two different types of plants. These include plants that provide nectar for adult butterflies and those that provide food for caterpillars. Each area has its own native butterfly species so planting the right type of plant will attract the right type of butterflies, as well as encourage the butterflies to propagate within your garden. Be mindful though to control the amount of caterpillars in your garden. You don\’t want to end up with a garden over ridden by caterpillars chomping down on your plants.
Choose plants that will flower for a longer period of time. It works even better if the flowers emit a fragrance. Large blossom flowers like snapdragons, hibiscus, impatiens, geraniums, marigolds, calendula, phlox and yellow sage are recommended as they give butterflies full wide access to their nectar.
Cultivate these plants in a sunny location that gets at least 5 to 6 hours of sunlight each day. Ensure that this area is also sheltered from strong winds. Butterflies like to flutter around areas that receive lots of sunlight but it would be a turn off for them to have to fight the wind in order to stay on the plants. Also consider laying some flat stones in a sunny location that will allow the butterflies to take a break as they bask in the sun.
Tip: Do not use pesticides in your butterfly garden. Butterflies are insects too so the poison that kills insects will also kill them.
The below table features the more common types of butterflies with their host and nectar plants (From: http://www.butterflywebsite.com)
Host Plant for Caterpillar
Nectar Flower Choice
|American Painted Lady|
Everlasting, Daisy, Burdock
Aster, Dogbane, Mallow, Goldenrod, Vetch, Privet
Aster, Dogbane, Dogwood, Goldenrod, Pepperbush
Queen Anne\’s Lace
Buddleia, Joe Pye Weed
Turtlehead, False Foxglove, Plantain
Milkweed, Viburnum, Wild Rose
Parsley, Dill, Fennel
Aster, Buddleia, Joe Pye Weed, Alfalfa
Goldenrod, Grape Hyacinth, Marigold
Cassia, Apple, Clover
Zinnia, Butterfly Bush, Cosmos, Cushion Mum
Elm, Hops, Nettle
Butterfly Bush, Dandelion
|Common Checkered Skipper|
Shepherd\’s needles, Fleabane, Aster, Red Clover
Aster, Dogbane, Goldenrod
|Eastern Pygmy Blue|
|Eastern Tailed Blue|
Rock Cress, Mustard
Mustard, Strawberry, Chickweed, Violet
Joe Pye Weed, Buddleia
Mallow/Hollyhock, Clover, Alfalfa
Thistle, Ice Plant
|Great Spangled Fritillary|
Thiste, Black-eyed Susan, Milkweed, Ironweed
Joe Pye Weed
Joe Pye Weed
Sap, Rotting fruit, Dung, Carrion
Willow, Elm, Poplar, Birch, Nettle, Wild Rose
Butterfly Bush, Milkweed, Shasta Daisy, Dogbane
Vetch. Alfalfa, Clover
Alfalfa, Aster, Clover, Verbena
Thistle, Daisy, Mallow/Hollyhock, Burdock
Dutchman\’s Pipe, Pipevine
Stonecrop, Clover, Aster, Dandelion, Goldenrod, Mallow
Black Cherry, Willow, Poplar
Black Locust, Wisteria
Dogbane, Privet, Clover, Thistle, Winter Cress
Cosmos, Blanket Flower, Marigold, Phlox, Zinnia
Blue Porter, Beggar Tick, Aster
Dogbane, Joe Pye Weed, Buddleia
Dogwood, Viburnum, Blueberry, Spirea, Apple
Blackberry, Cherry, Dogwood, Forget-me-not, Holly
Tree sap, Rotting fruit, Dung, Carrion
Black Cherry, Birch, Poplar, Willow
Joe Pye Weed, Buddleia
Violet, Passion Vine
Joe Pye weed
Willow, Poplar, Fruit Trees
Thistle, Beggar-tick, Goldenrod, Milkweed
|Western Tailed Blue|
Birch, Willow, Poplar, Honeysuckle
Aphid Honeydew, Bramble Blossom
Blackberry, Vetch, Milkweed, Buttonbush,Thistle
Verbena, Lantana, Shepard\’s Needle
Dogbane, Joe Pye Weed, Buddleia, Privet, Blueberry
Creating attractive incentives for butterflies
Make your own butterfly feeder.
Fruits like bananas, watermelon or pineapples attract butterflies. Cut these fruits up and place them on a wire mesh supported on a high platform. Change them everyday or two. Swallowtails, Painted Ladies and Fritillaries are attracted to a fruit station such as this.
Butterflies drink too! Fill a pot (you can use terracotta of even just a simple shallow pot) with pebbles and fill it with water right up to about an inch above the pebble surface. Don\’t have a pot? Use an old Frisbee. Turn it up side down and do the same as you did with the pot (i.e. filling it with pebbles and water).
Nesting for Eggs
As mentioned above, butterflies are also attracted to plants that can host their eggs. Read on the table provided above to know what type of plant is suitable for the listed butterflies.
Knowing which plant to choose in order to get the right type of butterflies to your garden will ensure proper pollination of the plants that you want. Having the knowledge of that correct type of butterflies in your area also increases this chance of attracting these beautiful creatures.
A garden filled with butterfly brings much joy and serenity to the home garden. Observing these beautiful creatures in setting that was created by you is a very rewarding experience not just for you, but for your family and the environment as well. Butterflies are like chicken soup for the soul, providing you with hours of tranquility and relaxation.
Creating a Butterfly garden
Sally Roth; Oct 24, 2002; Attracting Butterflies & Hummingbirds to Your Backyard: Watch Your Garden Come Alive With Beauty on the Wing