How to Create a Butterfly Garden

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

Black Swallowtail Butterfly (Papilio polyxenes)

Black Swallowtail Butterfly (Papilio polyxenes)

Close-Up Of Black Swallowtail Butterfly On Purple Flowers

Photo by: Getty Images/Vinod Kumar

Getty Images/Vinod Kumar

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

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