The Q&A Archives: Butterfly Plants?

Question: I am in charge of planting a courtyard for my library. The director wants plants that will attract butterflies. What do you suggest?

Answer: The best ways to attract butterflies are to plant in masses or groups all of one plant, and to avoid the use of chemicals. You may also want to plant food for caterpillars to encourage the butterflies to breed in your garden, although this means you will need to tolerate some larval feeding damage on your plants. Some plants that have been particularly successful in my butterfly garden are butterfly bush (Buddleia), Verbena bonariensis, Nepeta, Zinnias, Sedum spectabilis, purple coneflower (Echinacea purpurea), common chives and salvias of all kinds. Asclepias (butterflyweed), parsley, and Virginia creeper are excellent larval food sources as well as being ornamental. I hope this gives you some ideas.

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