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How to Attract Butterflies to Your Garden

A butterfly on a flower
Sean Xu/Shutterstock.com

Not only are butterflies beautiful, but they also serve a vital purpose as pollinators in our ecosystem. These creatures play an important role in maintaining plant populations and are a wonderful addition to any garden. If you’re interested in bringing more butterflies to your garden, here are some strategies for attracting them naturally.

Choose the Right Plants

A woman plants flowers in a garden
Juice Flair/Shutterstock.com

Butterflies are attracted to flowers that produce a lot of nectar, so it’s important to plant a variety of nectar-rich flowers if you want them around. This will not only provide a food source for the butterflies, but it will also create an aesthetically pleasing environment.

There are a lot of great plants you can add to your garden to attract butterflies, including milkweed, butterfly bush, zinnia, phlox, and coneflower. Milkweed is particularly important as it is the primary food source for monarch butterfly caterpillars.

Milkweed Seeds For Monarch Butterflies

Milkweed plant is the perfect plant to grow to have your very own butterfly garden.

Butterfly bushes, on the other hand, produce an abundance of nectar, making them a favorite among many butterfly species. Zinnias, phlox, and coneflowers are also excellent choices as they provide a landing platform for butterflies, allowing them to rest and feed on nectar.

Proven Winner Pugster Buddleia

Beautiful flowers and perfect for attracting butterflies.

Before planting flowers in your garden, be sure to make sure they will thrive in your local climate.

Add Host Plants

A butterfly on a clover plant

Creating a butterfly-friendly garden doesn’t stop at providing nectar-producing plants. You also need to consider providing host plants for butterflies to lay their eggs on. These plants serve as a source of food for the larvae that hatch from the eggs.

Without host plants, the butterfly population cannot sustain itself. Common host plants for butterflies include milkweed, parsley, dill, fennel, and clover. By planting these host plants, you not only attract butterflies but also create a habitat for their offspring.

Outsidepride Red Clover

Red clover is extremely attractive to butterflies and bumble bees.

Milkweed is a particularly important host plant for monarch butterflies, as it is the only plant that their caterpillars feed on. Planting milkweed not only attracts monarch butterflies but also provides a crucial food source for their larvae.

Parsley, dill, and fennel are host plants for swallowtail butterflies, while clover serves as a host plant for many different types of butterflies. By providing a variety of host plants in your garden, you can attract a diverse range of butterfly species and contribute to their conservation efforts.

Parsley Seeds

Excellent for attracting butterflies and using in the kitchen.

Provide a Water Source

A butterfly drinks from a pond

Butterflies, like all living creatures, need water to survive. A shallow dish filled with water or a small fountain can provide a drinking source for butterflies. You can also use a special butterfly puddler, which adds some beauty to your garden as well.

Gardeners Supply Company Ceramic Butterfly Puddling Stone

This hand-painted ceramic Butterfly Puddling Stone is a beautiful way to create your own puddling station that naturally attracts lovely, winged garden pollinators.

When providing a water source for butterflies, it’s important to keep the water shallow to prevent the butterflies from drowning. You can add rocks or pebbles to a dish or fountain to provide a landing spot for the butterflies while they drink. It’s also important to change the water regularly to prevent the growth of mosquito larvae, which can carry diseases harmful to humans and butterflies.

Navaris Watering Station

Another great option for giving water to butterflies.

Build a Shelter

A butterfly house

Butterflies need protection from harsh weather conditions like wind and rain, and providing shelter in your garden can help them thrive. Trees and shrubs can provide natural shelter, but you can also create a designated area in your garden specifically for butterflies. Building (or purchasing) a butterfly house is an excellent way to provide shelter for butterflies.

Wooden Butterfly House for Gardens

Keep your butterflies safe and comfortable.

Another way to provide shelter is by creating a butterfly garden with different layers of vegetation. Tall grasses, shrubs, and trees can create different levels of cover and provide a habitat for different butterfly species. By creating a diverse environment, you can attract a variety of butterfly species and provide them with the shelter they need to survive.

Offer a Food Source

A butterfly eats from a watermelon

Providing a food source for butterflies is crucial to their survival, especially during times when nectar-producing plants are not in bloom. One way to provide a food source is by offering ripe fruit in your garden.

Butterflies are particularly attracted to fruits like bananas, oranges, and strawberries. Simply place the ripe fruit in a shallow dish, and you’ll soon attract a variety of butterfly species to your garden. You may want to avoid doing this if you live somewhere with wild animals nearby, as fresh fruit can attract animals you don’t want in your yard.

Songbird Essentials SE78200 Butterfly Feeder

This feeder holds 6 ounces of nectar and fruit pieces.

Another way to provide a food source for butterflies is by making sugar water. Dissolve one part sugar in four parts water, and place it in a shallow dish in your garden. Sugar water serves as an alternative food source for butterflies, especially when nectar-producing plants are scarce, but it’s important to change the sugar water regularly to prevent the growth of harmful bacteria.

Creating a butterfly-friendly garden is a great way to attract these beautiful creatures to your outdoor space. By providing the right plants, water source, shelter, and a diverse range of plants, you can create a beautiful and ecologically friendly space that will attract a variety of butterfly species.

Anne Taylor Anne Taylor
Anne Taylor is a writer with a BA in Journalism and a passion for storytelling. Her work has been published on a variety of websites including Mental Floss and Well + Good, and she recently published her first novel, What it Takes to Lose. When she's not writing, Anne loves to travel (19 countries and counting), spend time outside, and play with her dog, Pepper. Read Full Bio »
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