A butterfly garden is an easy-to-install addition to your landscape that attracts butterflies and pollinators. It consists of four fundamental components: plants, shelter, sun and water.
Plant a range of native and cultivated flowering plants to provide year-round blooms for butterflies. Include nectar-producing flowers that will feed both adult and immature butterflies alike.
Plants are essential elements in a butterfly garden, as they provide food and shelter for butterflies at various stages of development. Adult butterflies require nectar plants while caterpillars require host plants.
Some flowers are also attractive to bees and hummingbirds, adding even more diversity to your yard. For the ideal butterfly garden, select plants with various flower colors and heights.
Lantana or shrub verbena produces an endless stream of beautiful clusters throughout the summertime. Monarch, cabbage white, red admiral and swallowtail butterflies are just some of the species attracted to its sweet-smelling nectar.
‘Spotted Joe’ pye weed (Eutrochium pye weed) is a low maintenance flower that produces clusters of frilly pink or purple blooms. This species grows tall and thrives in moist soil conditions.
Butterflies are delicate creatures and need protection from wind, rain and predators. Providing this habitat will encourage butterflies to your garden.
Generally, the ideal location for your butterfly garden is an area that receives at least six hours of full sunlight daily. This is especially crucial for cold-blooded butterflies, who must warm up before they can fly.
A Puddler for Extra Moisture
Although most butterflies get their water needs from nectar they consume, some require additional moisture. A “puddling station,” which is simply a damp spot of dirt or sand with some bright rocks sprinkled on top, can provide them with that extra layer of hydration as well as dissolved salts and minerals.
Make the most of your butterfly garden by providing food and shelter for all stages of their life cycle — from eggs to larvae and chrysalises to adults. Doing this will allow you to nurture a vibrant community of insects that are essential for pollination and aesthetic appeal in your landscape.
Sunlight is essential in your butterfly garden for both the insects and flowers. Butterflies are cold-blooded creatures and require sunlight to warm their bodies so they can fly.
One way to encourage them outdoors is by providing some sunny spots around the garden that allow them to rest and soak up some warmth from the sun. Try placing flat rocks or fence posts for this purpose in your landscape.
Another option is providing butterflies with a water source to quench their thirst. A bird bath or small dish filled with water are ideal options.
Butterflies require water for drinking, and a butterfly garden should provide them with an accessible source. Unfortunately, most flying insects cannot swim or land on open water so make sure the water source you create for your garden is secure for butterflies.
Place a shallow pan flush with the soil and fill it with moist coarse sand. Position it under an irrigation system or soaker hose to maintain consistent moisture levels in the sand.
Give Butterflies a Place for Puddling – Butterflies often congregate on wet sand and mud to “puddle,” drinking water from damp puddles and extracting minerals from them. You can create an ideal puddling area by digging a wide, shallow depression in the ground and filling it with landscape sand mixed with compost or garden soil.
Fill your dish almost to the brim with sand. Add some manure or compost and some salt for extra nutrition for your backyard butterflies.