Learning Center


How to Create a Butterfly Garden!

Butterfly Gardening


How to Create a Butterfly Garden!

Creating a garden or habitat for butterflies can be an exciting and rewarding project for you and your family.  These beautiful insects add active beauty to the garden as they feed, roost, and fly from bloom to bloom.  Many of the flowering shrubs, annuals, and perennials that provide food and shelter for butterflies can be found at the Good Earth Garden Center!

Creating a Butterfly Habitat

A habitat for butterflies is an environment that provides food, shelter and other things necessary…from eggs to larvae to pupae to adult.  Several of the components of this habitat are as follows:

  • Sunny Areas: Butterflies are coldblooded and need sunlight to absorb warmth for flight and other activities.
  • Water and Moist Areas: Most butterflies obtain water and nutrients/minerals from the moist areas found in and around your garden.  Swallowtails and other varieties will congregate around the edges of shallow depressions filled with water.  This behavior is commonly referred to as “mud-puddling”.
  • Shelter areas: Butterflies seek shelter on shrubs, log piles, stone and mortar walls…where they can bask in the sun, seek refuge from bad weather and predators, or hibernate.
  • Flowers:  Butterflies are attracted to a wide variety of flower shapes, colors, and nectars.  Mass plantings make it easier for the butterflies to discover the flowers.

Host Plants for Butterflies

After mating, the female butterfly searches for the proper “host” plant on which to deposit her eggs.  These host plants meet the needs of the butterfly during all four stages of its life cycle; egg, caterpillar, chrysalis, and adult.  Some of the host plants you can provide are:

  • Butterfly Weed (Monarch) * A MUST for butterfly gardens; read all about milkweed in this post!
  • Dill, Parsley, Fennel, Rue (Black Swallowtail)
  • Tulip Tree (Tiger Swallowtail)
  • Passion flower (Gulf Fritillary)

Nectar Flowers for Butterflies

There are many flowering shrubs, annuals, and perennials that supply food (nectar) for butterflies.

  • Annual Flowers: Penta, zinnia, marigolds, lantana, cosmos, impatiens, verbena, salvia, petunias, dianthus, torenia, celosia and ageratums.
  • Perennial Flowers: Coneflowers, asters, black-eyed susans, coreopsis, verbena, butterfly weed, cardinal flower, primrose, joe pye weed, agastache, bee balm and goldenrod.
  • Flowering Shrubs and Vines: Azaleas, butterfly bush (buddleia), hibiscus, white or pink viburnum, wisteria, honeysuckle, lilac, mock orange, clethra, Invincebelle Sublime hydrangea, and bougainvillea.

Planting Your Flowers and Shrubs

The staff at The Good Earth Garden Center will be glad to help you with all the plants and materials necessary for attracting butterflies to your garden!