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How to Attract Butterflies and Build a Butterfly Garden

The entire blooming flower head of the Butterf...


Attracting butterflies to your backyard habitat and garden can be a simple and fun pursuit and does not require anything fancy or expensive to attract them.

A butterfly garden or any open area with flowers that attract butterflies and provide food for the adults and caterpillars, a shallow butterfly pool for “muddling”, a few flat rocks for sunning and a shelter from the high winds, bad weather and predators is all that is needed.

A butterfly can be attracted to the nectar of many common plants, herbs, vines and bushes found around your home  and garden and with over 700 species in North America, you will be able to spot a large variety on their migratory visits through your area.

Butterflies, like hummingbirds and orioles are attracted to vibrant colors, red, yellow orange, pink and purple being their favorites so choosing plants with petals in these colors will work best for attracting them.

Butterflies rely on nectar as their primary food and generally will only feed in sunny areas so locating these plants in either areas that receive sun a large portion of the day or in and around backyard vegetable gardens will be the best place for them.

Each species of butterfly will have their preference of plants and nectars in both color and taste, so providing a variety of flowers will attract more butterflies and planting them in small groups of flowers rather than individual ones will work best.  Also the use of insecticides can be harmful to butterflies and their larvae so be especially careful with those.

Don’t forget to plant them in a sunny area, protected from strong winds and if you stagger a selection of plants that bloom at different times of the day and year and you will have a steady supply of butterflies to enjoy and for incredible photo opportunities.

Every state and region has plants that are native species and easy to grow and while their is a short list below – The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center has lists of recommended native plants by state and region.

Butterfly attracting plants: Marigold, Hibiscus, Lilac, Lavender, Oxeye Daisies, Purple Coneflower Aster, Black Eyed Susans, Marigold, Mint, Red Clover, Butterfly Weed, Flowers and Lillies, Thistle Winter Cress, Queen Anne’s Lace are but a few.

It is also a good idea to place a separate area of native flowering plants and weeds like dandelions, milkweed and nettle to ensure a wide variety of butterflies enjoying your butterfly habitat.

Like birds, butterflies need a good source of water and as they can’t drink from birdbaths setting up a simple area for “puddling” will do the trick.

Take a flat pan or bucket and fill it with sand, bury it just to the top leaving the sandy area exposed and then fill with water and be sure to keep it moist.  This will give the butterflies a place to congregate and get much needed moisture.

A few well placed flat stones for “sunning” and rest are also necessary for the butterflies providing them a place to warm up as they can’t regulate their body temperature without a good bask in the sun and the stones will be part of the natural landscape.

Don’t forget to visit your local butterfly sanctuary, in Missouri Powell Gardens Butterfly Festival in
August is a great place to visit.

Tony LoCascio – Bird and Butterfly
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Tags: lady bird johnson wildflower, flowers that attract butterflies, bird johnson wildflower center, lady bird johnson wildflower center, butterfly attracting plants

One Comment

  1. Fantastic post with loads of information. After reading you post i do feeel that attracting butterflies to your backyard habitat and garden can be a simple and fun pursuit and does not require anything fancy or expensive to attract them.

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