What is butterfly gardening? Simply put, butterfly gardening is the art of growing flowers and plants that will attract these colorful and dainty creatures to your garden. Your family and friends will be delighted seeing the beautiful butterflies that visit you daily, but be sure to create a safe habitat for them. If you own cats or chickens, rethink your plans, because it would be a shame to attract these lovely insects to their death. Both will eat the insects.
The design of your butterfly garden is a matter of personal preference. Typical points to consider are the size of your space and the types of flowers and plants you want to grow. Pick a style of garden that appeals to you visually, but ensure it also contains the plants and flowers that appeal to the butterflies you wish to attract. Each species seems to prefer something different, for example, monarch caterpillars love milkweed but will ignore everything else. It is important to find out which plants and flowers will attract the species of butterflies that live in your area. This information can be found at the local library, online, or from a local botanical garden.
To create the kind of environment that they find attractive, you will also need water of some kind. A birdbath is a great way to keep the butterflies up off the ground away from stray cats or mischievous puppies. Plus, it looks beautiful. A shallow dish on a post or hung in a tree will do just as well. Better yet, make your own and let the kids paint it and decorate it their way!
When planting your butterfly garden, remember that, although butterflies do not care about your choice of color, you don’t want your garden to be a hodgepodge of unrelated colors and textures how you coordinate the colors you choose for your flowerbeds. Butterflies are attracted to those flowers that have nectar rather than pollen, like the varieties listed below.
Some people find it helpful to draw and color a layout of their butterfly gardening plan to see what the finished product would look like. Keep in mind that warm colors like red and orange are flashy and showy. These colors have a greater impact against a strong green background. Cool colors such as blue and purple are soothing and toned down and would work better with a white contrast to create the look of freshness and brightness. Let your kids help. Throw in some flowers in their favorite colors and get them involved.
Here are a few types of plants you can plant to attract butterflies to your garden.
Honeysuckle is a perfect flower for any butterfly garden. It attracts a huge variety of different species of butterflies. It is also a host to spring azure butterflies. Trumpet honeysuckle hosts the caterpillars. Not only will it bring in the butterflies, but hummingbirds are attracted to the flowers as well. Song birds, such as robins, goldfinches, bluebirds, and thrushes love the tiny berries it produces. .Honeysuckle smells wonderful, can be used medicinally, the flowers can be eaten safely, and kids love the way the flowers look. Be careful because it can be quite invasive.
There are many different varieties of milkweed, so do your research before planting or scattering seed. Some varieties are better in a swampy area, some are better in dry ground, and some are very invasive and hard to control. Milkweed is the only food that monarch butterfly larvae eat while growing. It is also where the monarch will lay their eggs in the fall before flying away. Watching this life cycle is a great way for kids to learn about the circle of life and life cycle of butterflies and moths. You can even order monarch caterpillars to raise yourself!
I have to admit that this is one of my favorite summer plants. The smell is amazing when in bloom and you can even use the flowers yourself for many different things. We dry the flowers and use them in pillows, tea, or use them fresh in lilac simple syrup for lemonade.
While difficult to grow from seeds, often taking a very long time to bloom, live plants can easily be found at a local nursery. Or, you can order online here.
Many different varieties of butterflies are attracted to this beautiful shrub. Hummingbirds also love the nectar, so it will also being the birds around for you to enjoy.
This plant is not only a great plant for attracting butterflies, but it’s roots are excellent for medicinal purposes.
This attracts most butterflies with it’s showy flowers, but is a good type of plant to specifically attract swallowtail. Again, this plant can also be invasive if allowed to be free. Please remember to keep all plants contained in their specific places as they can easily overwhelm the neighborhood.
You don’t have to go far to see wild daisies. They are everywhere. They are also well loved by a number of different species of butterflies. They are fun for kids to use for crowns and other crafts as well, so they are a great addition to any landscape.
Purple Coneflower is a great flower to have around. Not only does it attract butterflies, but it can also be used medicinally. It will attract all types of butterflies, including fritillaries, monarchs, painted ladies and swallowtails. It also bring in the bees, which will help to pollinate other flowers.
Sage is the perfect edition to your garden. Not only do the flowers attract all kinds of butterflies, bees, hummingbirds, and various other beneficial insects, but it also repels many other harmful insects that can be a detriment to any garden. Plus, you can even use the leaves for cooking!
I admit that I am a sucker for lilies. Stargazer lilies are my absolute favorite flower and plan on planting a big variety of different lilies in my garden. I used to have a large area of Asiatic lilies that my boys bought me for Mother’s Day many years ago, but, unfortunately, squirrels dug all of them up last year. So make sure yours are well established. It also wouldn’t be a bad idea to break up the bulbs in the fall to spread them around so they aren’t all in the same spot.
These will bring in all types of wildlife to your garden. The butterflies, hummingbirds, and bees are amazing to watch.
Oh, lavender. The smell itself is enough to welcome anyone into your garden. When dried, they make a wonderful addition to scented pillows, oils for salves, and rice pillows for calming muscle relief. Just make sure that the variety you choose grows well in your particular growing zone. For instance, we are in planting zone 5b, so Hidcote English lavender is a good choice for us since it is cold hardy.
Again, another beautiful addition, cosmos are easy to grow and attractive to a myriad of butterflies and hummingbirds.
Enjoy the insects that this plant brings to your garden, and then enjoy the dried leaves and flowers yourself all winter long. You really can’t go wrong with this plant!
Again, there are many different flowers that will attract butterflies to any garden. There are even specific seed mixes if you just want to choose an area and spread random seeds. You could even harvest the seeds from the plants yourself every fall to spread them or gift to family and friends. Bringing butterflies, bees, and hummingbirds to any garden is a surefire way to delight the kids every day.