Top Butterfly Container Garden Ideas

Bring butterflies to your garden -- even if you have just a deck or patio -- with these easy container recipes.

By Ruth Rogers Clausen

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Pick Easy Plants

    This container garden is almost no-fail; the white zinnia is extra-easy to grow and the butterflies will appreciate it, as well as the fragrant heliotrope.

    A. Zinnia angustifolia 'Crystal White' -- 3
    B. Heliotrope (Heliotropium 'Marine') -- 2
    C. Coleus (Solenostemon 'Brilliancy') -- 1

Go with a Group

    This grouping of different kinds of containers, yet planted in the same color palette, draws the eye where a single container would be overlooked.

    A. Plectranthus 'Mona Lavender' -- 4
    B. Salvia guarantica 'Black and Blue' -- 2
    C. Fan flower (Scaevola 'New Wonder') -- 4

Give Them Something to Eat

    While we typically think of attracting butterflies with flowers, don't forget about host plants. Here, fennel is a good way to attract swallowtail caterpillars.

    A. Bronze fennel (Foeniculum vulgare 'Rubrum') -- 2
    B. Nasturtium (Tropaeoleum 'Scarlet Gleam') -- 4
    C. Sweet potato vine (Ipomoea batatas 'Tricolor') -- 1
    D. Sage (Salvia officinalis) -- 1

Plant a Butterfly Magnet

    Simple and eye-catching, the color and shape of the container is perfect for pentas plants, which no butterfly can resist.

    A. Pentas 'Butterfly Red' -- 3

Be Bold

    Bold and brassy, 'Teddy Bear' sunflower is fun and playful, especially as an echo for the dwarf marigolds at its feet. It'll also help bring tons of butterflies to your yard.

    A. Sunflower (Helianthus annuus 'Teddy Bear') -- 3

Try Vines

    Vines don't just have a spot in the ground; they're also great accents in container gardens. Here, a Spanish flag adds the perfect touch to an already wonderful planting.

    A. Zinnia haageana 'Persian Carpet' -- 2
    B. Petunia 'Ultra Blue' -- 3
    C. Coleus (Solenostemon 'Alabama Sunrise') -- 1
    D. Spanish flag (Ipomoea lobata) -- 1
    E. Vinca 'Illumination' -- 2

Create a Fall Look

    Evocative of autumn, this design has flair and contrast all summer long. The salvia echoes the firecracker blooms in shape and color, leaving the black-eyed Susans to take center stage.

    A. Black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia 'Indian Summer') -- 1
    B. Firecracker plant (Cuphea ignea 'David Verity') -- 3
    C. Salvia splendens 'Hotline Red' -- 2

Play Up the Foliage Effect

    This showy plant needs no embellishment. The plain container allows the flashy variegated lantana to show its stuff. The butterflies will enjoy the blooms while you enjoy the handsomely bicolored foliage.

    A. Lantana 'Samantha' -- 2

Go for the Blues

    Butterflies and hummingbirds can't resist salvias; here a blue salvia sets off other blue- and purple-flowering companions perfectly.

    A. Petunia 'Supertunia Royal Velvet' -- 4
    B. Salvia guarantica 'Black and Blue' -- 2
    C. Angelonia 'Serena Lavender' -- 2
    D. Nierembergia 'Purple Robe' -- 6
    E. Nemesia 'Blue Lagoon' -- 6

Plant in Yellow

    This all-yellow planter mixes shapes and sizes to create contrast and is stocked with black-eyed Susan, lantana, and other butterfly favorites.

    A. Calibrachoa 'Superbells Saffron' -- 4
    B. Marigold (Tagetes 'Discovery Yellow') -- 2
    C. Black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia 'Irish Eyes') -- 3
    D. Lantana 'Lemon Drop' -- 3
    E. Black-eyed Susan vine (Thunbergia alata) -- 1
    F. Lollipop flower (Pachystachys lutea) -- 1
    G. Creeping zinnia (Sanvitalia procumbens) -- 2

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