How to Plant a Butterfly Garden


It doesn’t take much to start a butterfly garden at home. All you need to do is choose the flowering plants which invite butterflies to come over for some food. Whenever you plant flowers which attract butterflies, you’ll create a place where butterfly populations will begin to grow.

The best flowers for butterflies are dependent on your growing zone and location. Many flowers are technically “butterfly friendly,” but it is helpful to plant specific items which attract pollinators for best results.

That means you’ll want flowers that are full of pollen and nectar.

Best Plants for Attracting Butterflies

Some of the most common plants that attract butterflies are alyssum, aster, cosmos, fennel, lavender, verbena, yarrow, and zinnia.

Depending on your climate, marigolds, oregano, phlox, coneflowers, sage, and butterfly bushes are good plants to include in your garden as well.

Best Plants for Attracting Caterpillars

To attract butterflies, you will also want to attract caterpillars to your garden. Without new caterpillars, you will not have any new butterflies.

Only a handful of plants qualify as an attractant for caterpillars. Think about planting hollyhocks, borage, and lupine. Willow trees attract caterpillars too. Certain weeds, such as thistles and nettles, are a good option to think about as well.

How to Build a Butterfly Sanctuary

If you’re thinking about turning your yard into a butterfly sanctuary, then you don’t need to worry about installing netting or creating a dedicated building that will house all the butterflies and your garden. As long as you have a few butterfly houses installed near the flowers you have planted, the butterflies will have a safe place to stay on your property.

Creating a butterfly house follows the same plans as your standard bird house. Instead of drilling a large hole for the bird, you would carve out a small slot along the front of the structure.

The Butterfly Site offers a complete set of plans that will help you be able to build your own butterfly house from scratch.

How to Make Birds and Butterflies Get Along

The issue that you’ll find with a butterfly garden is that some of the flowers will attract hummingbirds to your property. Those hummingbirds zip around a lot and can be fun to watch. They are also very territorial. If a couple of hummingbirds claim your butterfly garden, then the birds will attack the butterflies you’re hoping to attract.

To have the birds and butterflies co-exist, you’ll need to get rid of any birdhouses that are around the garden.

Then install a couple of hummingbird feeders away from the butterfly garden to attract the birds. If the hummingbirds are full of the nectar that you give them through the feeder, there will be more available in the flowers for the butterflies.

Give the butterflies some shelter plants as well. Cherries, plums, lilacs, and ornamental grass help the butterflies stay away from bird attacks, which allows them to be seen together more often.

Planting a butterfly garden is a rewarding experience. Keep this guide in mind as you begin to attract new butterflies to your property over time.