It must be spring because the beautiful flitting of colorful wings is starting to show up again. Butterflies are not only beautiful little creatures but they actually help pollinate our flowers and plants like bees do. I love having them around the yard. The question is ‘how to attract them?’. Planting a garden that attracts butterflies is a little more complex than I realized. Each stage of the butterfly’s life needs to be provided for. From egg-laying areas, food for their larvae, safe places to form their chrysalides and a constant nectar source for the adults. Here I’ve listed some tips on how to create a garden that might seem to come alive with flutter 🙂 Tweet
Choose the right plants and flowers.
Butterflies can be picky about the flowers that they’ll utilize. 1. Choose nectar- and pollen- rich flowers while keeping in mind 2. adults are attracted to yellow, orange, pink, purple and red blossoming flowers. 3. They like flowers that are flat-topped so they can land on them with a sturdy footing and 4. prefer to have a short flower tube to slurp the nectar from. Since butterflies usually only feed in the sun, 5. your flowers need to be able to withstand the heat of direct sunlight most of the day. 6. It’s ideal to have a variety of flowers (perennials and annuals) that bloom at different times.
Suggestions: A Butterfly Bush, Milkweed, Wildflowers, Zinnia
We learn in early childhood, caterpillars turn into butterflies. Caterpillars are the butterflies larvae. If you want a better turnout, attracting and caring for caterpillars correctly is just as important as attracting the butterflies. Plant flowers and plants that attract caterpillars as well. Milkweed is a common one. The National Wildlife Foundation lists common butterflies and the plants their caterpillars eat (see below). You can also purchase caterpillar food at your local supply store and sprinkle around where the flowers have been planted. The adult caterpillars will munch on the plants and most likely choose a safe spot near these flowers to chrysalis and take their final form as adult butterflies. Milkweed and Parsley are often ideal choices for attracting caterpillars.
- Acmon Blue – buckwheat, lupines, milkvetch
- American Painted Lady – cudweed, everlast
- Baird’s Swallowtail – dragon sagebrush
- Black Swallowtail – parsley, dill, fennel, common rue
- Coral Hairstreak – wild black cherry, American and chickasaw plum, black chokeberry
- Dun Skipper – sedges, grasses including purpletop
- Eastern Tiger Swallowtail – wild black cherry, ash, tulip tree, willow, sweetbay, basswood
- Giant Swallowtail – prickly ash, citrus, common rue, hoptree, gas plant, torchwood
- Gray Comma – gooseberry, azalea, elm
- Great Purple Hairstreak – mistletoe
- Gulf Fritillary – maypops, other passion vines
- Henry’s Elfin – redbud, dahoon and yaupon hollies, maple-leaved viburnum, blueberries
- Monarch – milkweeds
- Painted Lady (Cosmopolite) – thistles, mallows, nievitas, yellow fiddleneck
- Pygmy Blue – saltbush, lamb’s quarters, pigweed
- Red Admiral/White Admiral – wild cherries, black oaks, aspens, yellow and black birch
- Silver-Spotted Skipper – locusts, wisteria, other legumes
- Spicebush Swallowtail – sassafras, spicebush
- Sulphurs – clover, peas, vetch, alfalfa, asters
- Variegated Fritillary – passion flower, maypop, violets, stonecrop, purslane
- Viceroy – willows, cottonwood, aspen
- Western Tailed Blue – vetches, milkvetches
- Western Tiger Swallowtail – willow, plum, alder, sycamore, hoptree, ash
- Woodland Skipper – grasses
- Zebra Swallowtail – pawpaw
Provide water & rest
Instill a water garden, birdbath or purchase special feeders to provide a water source for your winged guests. Butterflies need a place to “puddle” where they gather on mud or wet sand to drink water and get minerals from the dirt. Rest is also important. Butterflies use the sun for navigation and to warm their wings. Placing a large flat rock somewhere that gets constant sun will be a great addition to your butterfly garden. A patch of moist sand or grass piling would be perfect!
Planting a garden to attract butterflies is will to pay off! Try our tips and start attracting common butterflies right away! If you want to attract rare species or swarms you will likely need special plants and very precise placement. Do your research and see if your area is a good habitat for the species you desire. You can order larvae online and customize your unique garden.
Do you have any other tips? Share with us below! Once you have a garden of butterflies, tag us in a pic on social media: @4TheLoveOfFam!
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Tips For Creating A Garden That Attracts Butterflies