Butterflies are some of the most beautiful and interesting creatures on earth and can be easily attracted to your garden. Like any living creature, they have certain habitat and food preferences. Below are some tips to get you started planning your butterfly habitat.
Sun and shelter are important. Butterflies cannot fly in wind or rain and prefer sunny and calm or gently breezy weather. A wood or brush pile will give them a place to rest and hide.
Plants for Butterflies
There are two groups of plants that will help attract butterflies. Plants that provide nectar as a food source and host plants that butterflies can lay eggs on. By planting a variety of these plants you can help attract and keep butterflies in your garden.
Select a variety of nectar producing plants which will provide flowers in bloom throughout the season. It is especially important to have flowers in mid to late summer when most butterflies are active. Flowers with multiple florets that produce abundant nectar are ideal. Below is a list of nectar plants that can easily be grown in our area:
|Echinacea (Purple Coneflower)||Marigold|
|Leucanthemum (Shasta Daisy)||Aster|
|Rudbeckia (Black Eyed Susan)||Cosmos|
|Asclepias (Butterfly Weed)||Lantana|
|Buddleia (Butterfly Bush)||Verbena – trailing|
|Echinops (Globe Thistle)||Verbena bonariensis|
Below is a list of host plants that butterflies like to lay their eggs on and that caterpillars can feed on. Note that many of them are considered ‘weeds’, so it would be a good idea to keep a wild area where these plants can thrive.
- Queen Anne’s Lace – Black Swallowtail
- Nettle – Tortoiseshells and Red Admiral
- Vetch – Silvery Blue
- Milkweed – Monarch
- Thistle – Painted Lady
- Hollyhocks – Painted Lady and Checkered Skippers
- Aster – Pearl Crescent
- Grasses – many including Northern Pearly Eye, Long Dash and Tawny Edged Skipper
- Dogwood – Spring Azure