Beautiful and Easy Butterfly Gardens

by Digby_Adams

Learn how to easily attract crowds of butterflies to your yard and garden with the right perennial and annual flowers.

I love dreaming about far away places, and the butterflies that visit my yard encourage that reflection. It's easy for me to spend hours on my porch with a field guide and cup of coffee identifying the many different species of butterflies that visit my butterfly garden on any giving day. If you're a gardener and you're planting annuals and perennials anyways, take a few minutes to learn which plants attract butterflies. Incorporate them in your garden design and your whole yard becomes a butterfly garden, filled with colorful butterflies from all over the world . When I was little my grandmother and mother taught me about gardening, as I pulled numerous garden weeds for my allowance. Later I read many books and took Saturday morning courses and the local gardening club. Now I'm a YouTube fan. I search the listings looking for garden design and planting ideas. So you'll see some of my favorite video inspirations as well.

Easy Tips to Plant a Butterfly Garden

I think Yolanda VanDeen has the very best YouTube video on butterfly gardening. First of all she shows you her own butterfly garden and she looks like a real person with a typical yard. Her first gardening tip is to plant green leafy plants and ferns, as well as hostas or hydrangeas. These plants create the perfect nursery for caterpillars, that eventually become colorful butterflies. Baby butterflies will love munching on them. Because butterflies are so delicate, you need to plant flowers that have flat areas for them to easily perch on. These plants should also have an abundance of pollen just sitting there, ready for the butterfly to much on!

VanDeen's first butterfly plant suggestion is liatris or gay feather. It's a fluffy purple flower with lots of pollen. Staying in the same color family VanDeen also explains how popular lavender is with her butterfly visitors. But don't think that you'll have a totally blue garden, because butterflies also love rudbeckia plants (black-eyed Susan). The wide yellow petals are the perfect landing zone. There's lots of pollen just waiting in the center. Use these rules as you select lots perennial plants and annual flowers for your yard and garden, and you'll always have lots of butterflies to revel in. Vibrant crocosmia will delight your eyes and your butterfly visitors. Even fragrance can be used to attract butterflies. VanDeen reports great success with eucalyptus plants.

Plant Host Plants for Caterpillars and Baby Butterflies

Master Gardener Molly Sturniolo teaches us about the importance of host plants for supporting the butterfly population in the YouTube video to the right. These are the plants that butterflies search for when they want to lay their eggs. They are much fussier when it comes to host plants for this purpose than they are when they are looking for pollen and nectar. In fact the Monarch butterfly will only lay its eggs on milkweed.

To maximize your butterfly population then, you want lots of different host plants. If you're a gourmet with an outdoor herb garden, you might just have lots of Blacktail Swallow butterflies because they lay their eggs on herb plants such as dill, parsley and fennel.

Butterfly Bushes for Your Garden

Buddleia Plant Pollen is Loved by Many Butterfly species

As you can see many different garden plants and perennials appeals to butterflies. But usually you read in garden books to include Buddleia plants in your garden. That's because this pollen is loved by many different species of butterflies. It also comes in many different colors. Because butterflies can see some color, it's a good idea to include a variety of colors in your butterfly garden.

Buddleia or Butterfly Bushes for Your Butterfly Garden

Pink Miss Ruby, Yellow Honeycomb, Blue Adonis, and White Profusion
'Miss Ruby' Butterfly Bush - Buddleia - Rich Pink Blooms - Proven Winners

BUDDLEIA: Graceful gray-green foliage arches with flowers from summer into fall. The common name aptly describes this garden beauty. It does not wake up until late spring, but i...

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Honeycomb Butterfly Bush - Buddleia - Best Yellow - 4" Pot

BUDDLEIA: Graceful gray-green foliage arches with flowers from summer into fall. The common name aptly describes this garden beauty. It does not wake up until late spring, but i...

Adonis Blue English Butterfly Bush - Buddleia - Proven Winner

BUDDLEIA: Graceful gray-green foliage arches with flowers from summer into fall. The common name aptly describes this garden beauty. It does not wake up until late spring, but i...

'White Profusion' Butterfly Bush Perennial - Buddleia

Fast growing deciduous shrub with tremendous late summer blooms. These plants are butterfly magnets with their large, honey-scented blooms. Mulch in colder climates. Pure white ...

Pick a Sunny Spot for Your Butterfly Garden

Butterflies are Cold-Blooded

Because butterflies are cold-blooded, they enjoy a warm and sunny spot. But because some of my hostas love the shade, I've created a long butterfly garden that starts off in the sun and then ends up in a partial-shade, hosta-friendly environnment.

If you wake up on a cool morning and you see a butterfly spread out flat on your deck, don't worry you didn't kill him or her. This is a butterfly that's recharging - getting warm again. It's important to give butterflies a chance to do this. So find a few big rocks, even a boulder or two, and use them as landscape features in your butterfly garden.

A water feature is also important as well. Butterflies need water just like every other living creature. So if you live in a dry or drought-prone region, please be sure to leave a shallow source of water for these delicate visitors.

Provid a Diverse Eco-System to Attract Butterflies

Rue, Black Locust Tree, Cabbage and Kale

After you watch the video to the right, you'll probably start to feel that everything is a butterfly plant. Well that's not exactly true, but there is a larger diversity than you might think. To me, that's what sound gardening and landscaping is all about. Plant a large number of annual flowers and perennial plants, as well as herbs for you and your butterflies.

Rue is another important host plant that will attract Black Tail Swallow butterflies. Partridge Pea is another great host plant for Cloudless Sulphur butterflies. The spicebush plant attracts its namesake the Spicebush Swallow Tail butterflies.

It's not just plants that you should plant to attract butterflies. The Black Locust Tree is the ideal host for the Silver Spotted Skipper butterfly.

Vegetables such as cabbage and kale are also host plants for a variety of butterflies.

Black Locust Trees

Another Host Plant for Butterflies
1 Black Locust 1-2' bareroot tree

Black Locust Robinia pseudoacacia Zones 4-9 Ht. 80' Fast growing tree. Fragrant white flowers in spring. Grows in full sun in rich moist soil. Used for shelterbelts and land rec...

Robinia pseudoacacia: Black Locust Seeds

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Organic Gardening Protects the Butterfly Population

You only have to watch a butterfly for a few minutes to understand what a delicate creature it is. Many expert gardeners and biologists believe that the butterfly population is declining because of our use of pesticides and fertilizers. I believe that this is a warning that these gardening techniques aren't good for us as well. It might just take longer to knock us off. So I love to see butterflies in my garden and landscaping, because I feel if it supports them, then it's healthy for me as well.

Updated: 10/15/2012, Digby_Adams
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Digby_Adams on 04/17/2012

Thank you everyone. Individual butterfly gardens really are important to help sustain the butterfly population. If you live in the Atlantic Corridor migration route, it's even more important.

sheilamarie on 04/17/2012

Beautiful page and beautiful gardens! This will be my year for creating a flower garden. I will use some of your tips.

AussieBee on 04/17/2012

Fascinating article! It is good to see people designing their yards and gardens to be welcoming to butterflies.

Angel on 04/16/2012

This was such a very helpful article for me... very timely too. we just moved into a new house and I need to plant some things around the house. This is exactly what I am looking for. Very helpful...thanks!

2uesday on 04/15/2012

Lots of useful advice for what to plant to attract butterflies. I have a buddelia and when it flowers it is covered with butterflies which is nice.

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