Butterfly friendly gardens are all the rage right now. Attracting these beautiful creatures to your yard is easier than you might think! In this post, I’ll tell you all you need to know about how to create a garden for butterflies.
One of the greatest joys of gardening is watching butterflies float around my yard. It’s one of my favorite things about summer!
Well I have some great news for you. It’s not difficult to fill your yard with these beautiful and beneficial insects. It just takes a bit of planning.
I get tons of questions from readers asking for tips and advice about starting a butterfly friendly garden. So in this how-to guide, I’ll give you all the details you need to create your own!
Attracting Butterflies To Your Garden
The good news is that attracting butterflies to your garden is actually very simple. It starts with proper planning. You can’t just haphazardly plant a bunch of stuff, then sit back and wait for them to flutter by.
There are certain things you need to include in order to entice them to visit, and stay for a while. Don’t worry, I’m going to make this really easy for you! The first step is coming up with your design plan.
How To Plan A Butterfly Garden
When planning your butterfly garden layout, there are a few important things to keep in mind. The great news is that you don’t need a huge space to create one.
You can incorporate it into any existing bed, or carve out a small area of your yard for a new one. Heck, you can even use containers on your deck, patio, or balcony. It’s not the size that matters!
Here are the important things you need to think about during the planning and design phase.
Choose A Full Sun Location
Butterflies love the sunshine! They need the warmth in order to fly, and most of them will only feed while basking in the rays.
Make sure you plan to put your garden in a full sun location that gets at least 6 hours of direct exposure every day.
Incorporate Various Bloom Times
Not only do you need to plant tons of things that butterflies love, but it’s also important to make sure that there’s always something blooming for them.
It’s best to mix perennials that will blossom at different times, and also incorporate annuals. That way, you’ll have constant blooms that will provide an endless supply of nectar all summer long.
Create Mixed Groupings
When you’re planning a butterfly garden, be sure to buy plants in groups, rather than getting only one of each variety.
Grouping several of the same variety will create large blocks of color, which will make it easier for the butterflies to find your garden. It will also encourage them to stay around longer.
Plant In Layers
When selecting flowers for your butterfly garden, look for ones with different heights so you can plant in layers.
Not only will this provide more variety for our winged friends, it will give your design the most impact.
Put the tallest ones in the back (or the center, if your bed can be viewed from all sides), and layer them from tallest to shortest, with the lowest ones in front.
Give Butterflies A Place To Rest
Another important thing to incorporate into your garden design are good landing pads for the butterflies. They like to have a place to rest while they’re feeding or warming themselves in the sun.
Large rocks, decorative trellises or obelisks, or even a bench or chair can provide a nice resting place for them. These decorative elements also add visual interest to your garden.
Wide, flat flowers are also a perfect choice. They will provide a place to sit and rest during feeding time (and also create tons of awesome photo opps for you).
How To Create A Butterfly Friendly Garden
If you want to fill your garden with butterflies, the most important thing to think about is what will attract them.
Below are some tips for choosing what will work the best. You can see my list of the best flowers and plants for attracting them here.
Use Bright Colors
They aren’t attracted to every type of flower, so it’s important to choose the best ones. They like big blocks of bright colors that stand out.
Red, yellow, white, orange, pink, and purple are all great choices. Don’t just stick with one color however, it’s best to use an assorted mix to attract as many types of butterflies to your garden as you can.
Intermix A Variety Of Plants
Having a nice variety is a sure way to attract many different types of butterflies to your garden. So be sure to intermix several of their favorites.
A nice variety of plants also adds interest to your beds, and looks gorgeous too! Double bonus!
Include Host Plants For Caterpillars
A host plant is one where the females will lay their eggs; then their larvae (the caterpillars) will feed on it as they grow.
Incorporating a variety of these into your garden will not only attract butterflies, but get them to stick around for multiple generations too.
Butterfly Garden Maintenance Tips
Once you fill your garden with butterflies, you want to make sure they will keep them coming back for more!
There are several things to keep in mind as you work to maintain an environment that is not only attractive, but also safe for them, so they will thrive.
Provide Extra Food
Flowers will provide much of the nutrients that butterflies need in your garden naturally. But you can also add special feeders to give them even more food sources.
They love fruit, so try hanging some out in a special feeder for them. Or put out a butterfly feeder filled with nutritious nectar.
Maintain A Fresh Water Source
They also need water to survive, especially during the hottest summer months. So add a water source for them to flock to.
Add some stones to a shallow bird bath or get a puddler for them. As long as they have a place to land, any shallow water source would be the perfect addition to your butterfly friendly garden.
Skip The Pesticides
Pesticides don’t discriminate. They kill all types of bugs, even the beneficial ones. It’s super important to avoid using them, especially toxic chemical pesticides, in your butterfly garden.
Keep in mind that even organic and natural products can kill pollinators. So never do broadcast spraying of any type of pesticide.
If you must use something, make sure you choose non-toxic, organic products, and use them selectively to target only the pest insect.
Consider Raising Butterflies
Raising butterflies inside the house is fun, and a great way to help increase their population in your garden. It’s especially easy to raise monarchs, and kids love it too!
You can find the eggs or caterpillars in your yard, then create your own terrarium for them. Or, buy a kit, which comes with everything you need to get started.
Creating a butterfly friendly garden is fun and so rewarding! Not only will you get to enjoy these lovely pollinators, but you’ll be helping them out by creating a safe and healthy habitat for them.
Recommended Butterfly Garden Books
- Raising Butterflies in the Garden
- The Life Cycles of Butterflies (From Egg to Maturity)
- Birds, Bees, and Butterflies: Bringing Nature Into Your Yard
- Pollinator Friendly Gardening
More Flower Gardening Posts
- Annual Flower Garden Design For Beginners
- How To Build A Rain Garden Step-By-Step
- Create A Bee-Friendly Garden To Help Save The Bees
- How To Design A Front Yard Foundation Planting
Share your tips or experience with creating a butterfly friendly garden in your yard.
My goal this year is to create more space for butterflies to hangout and eat. We bought 4 plants last year and the butterflies loved them, but felt it wasn’t enough for them all.
Amy Andrychowicz says
Sounds like a great goal to attract more butterflies to your garden, have fun!