Perennials, Spring Gardening, Summer Gardening

Plant a Butterfly Garden

Butterflies are easily the favorite of the insect kingdom.  I mean, really. What insect is loved more than the butterfly?  While most people scream at the sight of just about any other insect crawling on their bodies, people pay money for the prospect of these beautiful creatures landing on them or even near them.  Butterflies, however, are in a bit of danger. Many of their habitats have been destroyed or reduced because of deforestation, drought, etc. What can you do about this? You can plant plants that attract, feed, and offer a place for butterflies to lay their eggs.  The list of plants you can use are quite long, so we will keep it to the ones we have in stock, or you can easily find. Before you plant, there are a few things you should do to prepare. 

Space Preparation
  1. Choose the best location.  Butterflies (and the plants they love) love full sun.  So find a sunny spot!
  2. Make note of how much space you have.  The number of plants you can plant will be determined by the amount of space in your butterfly garden area.
  3. Choose plants that will bloom at different times of the summer to feed them throughout the entire season.
  4. Make a plan for where you will plant each plant.  Allow enough room for the plant to grow.
  5. Prepare the soil.  Butterflies will do best on plants that grow native in our area, so that means most of the plants you choose will be okay in the soil at your house.  However, you will want to make sure your soil is a nice blend — not too much clay, not too much moisture, etc. so the plant will thrive. Grab some landscape planting mix to incorporate with your soil when you grab your plants for your butterfly garden.  

There are plants butterflies like to eat–whether the nectar from the flower (butterflies) or the plant itself (larvae).  Now, remember the larvae may eat A LOT of the plant. Don’t freak out. The plant will come back again either later in the season or next year.  Then there are plants the butterflies will lay their eggs on. And ONLY lay their eggs on.

Plants Butterflies like to eat (whether the plant itself or the nectar from the flowers):

  • Butterfly weed
  • Butterfly bush
  • Echinacea (coneflower)
  • Verbena
  • Lantana
  • Zinnia
  • Yarrow
  • Salvia
  • Agastache
  • Liatris (Gay Feather)
  • Joe Pye Weed
  • Stokes Aster
  • Phlox
  • Coreopsis
  • Aster
  • Passion Vine

Plants butterflies like to lay their eggs on:

  • Butterfly Weed (Monarchs)
  • Fennel, parsley, dill, or Passion Vine (Swallowtail)

The list of plants is quite extensive and you may be wondering how to plan for placement.  Below is categorization of planning a garden with the tallest plants in the back, medium height plants in the middle and shorter plants in the front.  However, if you had a garden that was a circle, you would put the tallest plants in the center. How you plan your garden is totally up to you., but be aware of placement for the best look

Tallest, 3-5 feet (in the back section):
  • Agastache
  • Liatris
  • Butterfly bush (depending on the variety. Check the size.  Dwarf varieties will be better in the middle section.)
Medium height, 1-2 feet (in the middle section):
  • Lantana
  • Zinnia
  • Yarrow
  • Salvia (can also be used in the front section)
  • Joe Pye Weed
  • Stokes Aster
  • Phlox
  • Coreopsis
  • Aster
  • Passion Vine (make sure you have a structure for this to grow on)
Lowest height, 4 inches-1 foot (in the front section):
  • Creeping phlox (mostly blooms in spring)
  • Butterfly weed
  • Echinacea (Coneflower–depending on variety.  Check size–some will grow to be very large.)
  • Verbena

Other tidbits for a successful Butterfly Garden:

Butterflies like rotting fruit.  If you have fruit that is going bad place it among the flowers.  

Pace a small dish with a little sand, rocks, and water in your garden.  This is called a puddler.  It allows butterflies to land and get some of the minerals they need.    

Send us a picture of your butterfly garden once you have it planted!  We can’t wait to see your creations, and we are sure the butterflies will love it, too.  If you don’t start seeing butterflies immediately, give it some time to fill out and bloom.  More than likely, they will end up coming around 🙂 And delighted you will be!

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