Creating a Butterfly Garden


By National Gardening Association Editors

Butterflies bring an added dimension to your landscape. Lured by scent and color, they visit certain plants to feed on nectar, a sugary solution containing the carbohydrates that butterflies need for energy. Create a welcoming landscape by including butterfly-friendly plants and features.

Tools and Materials

  • butterfly-attracting flowers
  • large, flat rock
  • water source
  • one or more trees or shrubs

1. Choose a site that has some sun but is also sheltered from wind. Include a few trees and shrubs for roosting at night and for cooling off on the hottest days.

2. Add one or two large, flat rocks in the sun so butterflies a place to bask when mornings are cool.

3. Since butterflies cannot drink from open water, provide them with a "puddle" by filling a container, such as an old birdbath, with wet sand where they can perch and drink safely.

4. Add nectar plants, including aster, black-eyed Susan, butterfly bush, buttefly weed, cosmos, ironweed, Joe-Pye weed, phlox, purple coneflower, sedum, and zinnia.


Include food plants for the larvae, including dill, fennel, milkweed, and parsley. Different butterfly larvae feed on different plants, so research the butterflies native to your region to determine what to plant.

Remember that butterfly larvae are caterpillars. Learn to distinguish the larvae of butterflies you're trying to attract from from pest species. Minimize the use of pesticides to protect butterfly larvae and adults.

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