How to Create a Butterfly Garden
Butterflies evolved into specific species by eating only a few different plants. As human development has expanded, these plants got ripped down or dispersed. Butterflies thrive on large groupings of plants. Many butterflies can’t eat nonnative plants, they need their specific native plant to survive. 90% of insect species can only eat the plants that are native to their own regions. (https://climatekids.nasa.gov/butterfly-garden/). This lack in native vegetation has lead to decreased species of butterflies.
Here are the things you need to consider when creating a butterfly garden:
These are the fundamental factors to consider in your planting plan. We’ve included a list of butterfly garden plants at the end of the article.
- Plant native nectar plants: This can feed both butterflies and caterpillars. Butterflies tend to prefer native plants, whereas non-native / invasive species pose potential harm.
- Plant host plants: These are butterfly breeding grounds, and where caterpillars live and grow.
- Plant in mass matrixes: Each species of butterfly will only feed off a few species. Grouping plants together invites butterflies to linger longer in your garden. Choose a variety of plants to keep them blooming throughout Spring, Summer, and Autumn.
- Plant in consistent colors: Placing plants of similar color and species together helps them stand out to butterflies. Bright colors like red, orange, yellow, and purple are best.
Make sure your garden is designed to thrive. Ensure you are providing optimal sun, shelter, and soil. Shelters are important to protect butterflies from overexposure, predators, and strong winds.
- Proper Sunlight: Ensure your garden receives full sun for half the day.
- Add several layers of canopy: In addition to providing protection, this can create visual interest. Arbours, trees, and tall grass and shrubs can help with this effect, as can terracing.
- Proper Soil: Plants can’t handle soil that is acidic, rocky, or has too much clay content.
3. Create an Oasis
Butterflies are cold-blooded and need areas to sunbathe. While butterflies enjoy warming up they also need water to cool down. This cooling down is called ‘Puddling.’ While butterflies get most of their fluids from the nectar of flowers, they do need a little bit of water to sustain them.
- Provide a place for ‘Puddling’: Make sure your garden has a small water source.
- Provide a place for sunbathing: Warm areas include rocks and pavement.
BUTTERFLY GARDEN PLANT LIST
Butterfly Meadow Mix:
- Little Bluestem / Schizachyrium scoparium
- Rose Milkweed, Swamp Milkweed / Ascelpias incarnata
- Showy Pink Milkweed / Ascelpias speciosa
- Hollyhock / Alcea rosea
- Munroe’s Globe Mallow / Sphaeralcea munroana
- Rubber Rabbitbrush / Chrysothamnus nauseosus
- Sagreb Whorled Tickseed / Coreopsis verticillata Zagrebb
- Moonshine Yarrow / Achillea ‘Moonshine’
- Coreopsis / Coreopsis grandiflora
- Black-Eyed Susan / Rudbeckia fulgida
- Goldenrod / Solidago canadensis
- Catmint / Nepeta racemosa
- May Night Meadow Sage / Salvia sylvestris May Night
- Magnus Coneflower / Echinacea purpurea ‘Magnus’
- Lavender / Lavandula angustifolia
- Blue Glow Globe Thistle / Echinops banaticus
- Gayfeather / Liatris punctata
- Rocky Mountain Penstemon / Penstemon strictus
- Blue Mist Spira / Caryopteris clandonensis
- Royal Candles Speedwell / Veronica spicata
- Jumping Jack Perennial Viola / Viola Jumping Jack
- Blue Fortune Hyssop / Agastache ‘Blue Fortune’