How to Create a Butterfly Garden

Learn how to make your yard a destination for these beauties.

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.

From: National Gardening Association

Materials Needed

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

Step 1: Select Site for Butterfly Garden

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.

Step 2: Remember the Rocks

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

Step 3: Provide Water

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.

Step 4: Add the Plants

Add nectar plants, including aster, black-eyed Susan, butterfly bush, butterfly 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: Butterfly larvae are caterpillars. Learn to distinguish the larvae of butterflies you're trying to attract from pest species. Minimize the use of pesticides to protect butterfly larvae and adults.

Butterfly Garden Plants

Hollyhock (Alcea rosea)

Photo By: DK - How to Grow Practically Everything ©2010 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Amsonia

Pot Marigold

Photo By: DK - How to Grow Practically Everything © 2010 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Black-Eyed Susan

Gayfeather

Baptisia

Lantana

Heliotrope

Photo By: DK - Simple Steps to Success: Containers for Patios © 2007 Dorling Kindersley Limited

'Hidcote' Lavender

Photo By: DK - How to Grow Practically Everything © 2010 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Floss Flower

Photo By: DK - How to Grow Practically Everything © 2010 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Chocolate Cosmos

Photo By: DK - Simple Steps to Success: Containers for Patios © 2007 Dorling Kindersley Limited

African Lily

Photo By: DK - Simple Steps to Success: Containers for Patios © 2007 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Aster

Photo By: DK - Learn to Garden © 2008 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Butterfly Bush

Photo By: DK - Learn to Garden © 2008 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Sea Holly

Photo By: DK - How to Grow Practically Everything © 2010 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Next Up

Create a Fairy Theme in Your Garden

Creative gardening lets you sprinkle a little enchantment in your outdoor space.

Create a Relaxing Garden Space

Use these design tips to help create the outdoor oasis you've always imagined.

Think Outside the Pot: Plant a Container Butterfly Garden

Lure butterflies right to your door with a collection of containers filled with nectar-rich flowers.

How to Plant a Container Water Garden

Add a water feature in a pot for your small garden.

Define Your Outdoor Space With a Garden Fence

Discover the materials and design that will work best for your garden boundary, whether it is a fence, wall or hedge.

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.

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.

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.

Create a Small-Scale Butterfly Garden

Easy steps for making your yard butterfly-friendly.

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.