Top Butterfly Container Garden Ideas

Yellow flowers long planter letters
Photo: Marty Baldwin

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

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Plant a Butterfly Magnet

Fuschia flowers outdoor planter letters
Kim Cornelison

Simple and eye-catching, the color and shape of the container is perfect for pentas plants, which no butterfly can resist. Red varieties like 'Butterfly Red' will also attract hummingbirds.

A. Pentas 'Butterfly Red' — 3

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Pick Easy Plants

Small white flowers outdoor planter letters
Mark Kane

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

A. Zinnia angustifolia 'Crystal White' — 3

B. Heliotrope (Heliotropium 'Marine') — 2

C. Coleus (Solenostemon 'Brilliancy') — 1

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Go with a Group

Variety of purple flowering plants letters
Jason Wilde

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

A. Plectranthus 'Mona Lavender' — 4

B. Salvia guarantica 'Black and Blue' — 2

C. Fan flower (Scaevola 'New Wonder') — 4

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Give Them Something to Eat

Outdoor plant red orange flowers letters
Marty Baldwin

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

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Be Bold

Yellow flowers outdoor planter letters
Eric Roth

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

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Top Butterfly Garden Plants

See plants that are sure to flourish in your butterfly garden! Incorporate both annuals and perennials, and choose varieties that will provide blooms throughout the growing season.

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Try Vines

Bright flowers blue pot letters
Andrew Drake

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 butterfly planter.

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

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Create a Fall Look

Yellow and red flowers outdoor planter letters
Michael Garland

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

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Play Up the Foliage Effect

Small yellow flowers outdoor planter letters
Kim Cornelison

This showy plant needs no embellishment. The plain butterfly garden idea allows the flashy variegated lantana to show its stuff. The butterflies will enjoy the blooms while you enjoy the handsomely bi-colored foliage.

A. Lantana 'Samantha' — 2

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Go for the Blues

Purple flowers long planter letters
Marty Baldwin

Butterflies and hummingbirds can't resist salvias. Here, 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

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Plant in Yellow

Yellow flowers long planter letters
Marty Baldwin

This all-yellow planter mixes shapes and sizes to create contrast. We stocked this container 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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Video: Container Garden Design Ideas

Need help designing a container garden? Get a lesson from Better Homes and Gardens® editor-in-chief Stephen Orr. Use these tips and tricks to put together a beautiful container garden.

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