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

See All Photos

Shop This Look

Keep Reading

Next Up

Create a Small-Scale Butterfly Garden

Easy steps for making your yard butterfly-friendly.

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.

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.

Quick and Dirty: Shedding a Light on Butterfly Gardens

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

Butterfly Garden Design

Plant a garden that caters to butterflies, and you’ll be rewarded with flitting, fluttering color—along with drifts of flowers.

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.

Nectar Sources for Butterflies

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

Surround Yourself With a Pollinator-Friendly Garden

See how you can help butterflies and bees thrive.

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail Butterfly

Learn more about the easter tiger swallowtail butterfly.

Planting for Pollinators

Bring beneficial birds, bees and butterflies to your garden by growing plants and flowers they love.

On TV

Living Big Sky

6:30am | 5:30c

Living Big Sky

7:30am | 6:30c

Flea Market Flip

8:30am | 7:30c

Flea Market Flip

9:30am | 8:30c

Home Town

10am | 9c

Home Town

11am | 10c

Fixer Upper

12pm | 11c

Desert Flippers

1:30pm | 12:30c

Desert Flippers

2:30pm | 1:30c

Desert Flippers

3:30pm | 2:30c

Flip or Flop

4:30pm | 3:30c

Flip or Flop

5:30pm | 4:30c

Flip or Flop

6:30pm | 5:30c

Flip or Flop

7:30pm | 6:30c
On Tonight
On Tonight

Flip or Flop

8pm | 7c

Risky Builders

8:30pm | 7:30c

Flip or Flop

9:30pm | 8:30c

House Hunters

10pm | 9c

House Hunters

11pm | 10c

House Hunters

11:30pm | 10:30c

Flip or Flop

12am | 11c

Flip or Flop

12:30am | 11:30c

House Hunters

1am | 12c

House Hunters

2:30am | 1:30c

Risky Builders

3:30am | 2:30c

Follow Us Everywhere

Join the party! Don't miss HGTV in your favorite social media feeds.