Family Planting: Butterfly Garden

If you have a sunny, sheltered border, you have the makings of a butterfly garden. Here's what you need to get started.
From: DK Books - Family Garden
Butterfly Garden Brings Hours of Family Fun

Butterfly Garden Brings Hours of Family Fun

©2009, Dorling Kindersley Limited

2009, Dorling Kindersley Limited

Butterfly gardening involves planning a garden to attract, retain, and encourage butterfly populations. Select a variety of nectar producing plants with the aim of providing flowers in bloom throughout season, sure to bring hours of fun.

Butterflies need to be able to bask in sunshine, and their delicate wings cannot cope with very much wind. They are attracted to simple, single flowers that are rich in nectar. This vibrantly colored border reaches its peak in late summer, but to really support the butterflies, try to plant other plants nearby that will provide nectar throughout the year. The addition of a butterfly feeding station and hibernation house would almost guarantee an impressive show.

Border Basics

  • Size: 10x10 ft (3x3 m) 
  • Suits: A border 
  • Soil: Moisture-retentive but well-drained 
  • Site: Sheltered, in full sun

Shopping List

  • 3 x Aster amellus “King George” 
  • 3 x Rudbeckia fulgida var. deamii 
  • 3 x Sedum 
  • 3 x Solidago “Golden Wings”

Planting and Aftercare

Clear the ground of weeds and prepare the soil by digging in plenty of organic matter, such as garden compost, composted bark chips, or mushroom compost. Position the plants on the ground, while still in their pots. Keep them in clumps of three or in drifts. Try several positions until they look right. It is traditional to put larger plants, such as solidago, toward the back of a border, and smaller plants, such as sedum, toward the front, to create a bank of color. However, lovely effects can be created by using tall but translucent plants such as Verbena bonariensis, toward the front of a border. After planting, keep plants well watered for the first few months, while the roots get well established.

Next Up

Family Planting: The Giant Garden

Large plants that dwarf little people can be a wonderful addition to a children’s garden.

Family Planting: Tropical Garden

A tropical border is one of the most exciting plantings, filled with bold, colorful plants and reminiscent of a child’s fantasy jungle.

Butterfly Gardening Basics

Offer a sheltered, sunny spot and a diversity of flowering plants, and you'll have these beautiful creatures — and their children too.

Family Planting: Pond in a Pot

Those with a small yard can enjoy the aesthetic and wildlife benefits that a pond can bring.

Attracting Butterflies to the Garden

Welcome these colorful winged creatures to your garden. Find out which flowers they prefer and how to make a butterfly bath.

Nectar Sources for Butterflies

Check out these plant options for drawing in and nourishing butterflies in your garden.

Quick and Dirty: Shedding Alight on Butterfly Gardens

If you’re looking to lure butterflies to your backyard, you have to start like they do: with the caterpillar.

Create a Small-Scale Butterfly Garden

Easy steps for making your yard butterfly-friendly.

How to Design a Family Garden

Need a garden that leaves room for kids and adults? Check out this guide for design tips suited to the whole family.

Family Gardening: Create a Miniature Garden

Using small plants to make a miniature garden fires the imagination and reduces the garden to a child’s scale. Plastic farm or jungle animals, fairies, or dinosaurs bring the scene to life.