The Q&A Archives: Good Plants For Butterflies In New York

Question: I have a patch of land that I would like to make a butterfly garden. It is in full sun. Can you suggest the best plants for the job for my area. I am in zone 6. A mix of nectar plants and caterpillar hosting plants would be great.

Answer: One of the best ways to plant a butterfly garden is to plant in masses and to have something in bloom all the time. Some butterfly "magnets" for full sun are: achillea, coreopsis, buddleia, verbena bonariensis, purple coneflower, nepeta, asters, and sedum spectabilis. Butterflies and larvae also flock to asclepias, Virginia creeper, parsley, dill, fennel, borage, and many other herbs. Annuals to consider would be colorful and long blooming; zinnias are very poopular with the butterflies as are cosmos. To some extent you may want to start with the butterfly attractant plants, identify the ones that show up, and then plant larval food sources for those specific types. Other consideratons are to provide a wind break, a morning sunning spot with sun-warmed rocks or stones, and a saucer of muddy water for them to drink. Remember too that the larval food plants will be chewed up an unsightly, so don;t plant them in a prominent spot. Have fun with your project!

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