How to Attract Butterflies to Your Garden
Set Out Water Sources
In nature, butterflies sip moisture from mud puddles. In the garden, chipped china saucers and platters placed here and there create pretty water sources. Large stones provide sunny perches for the fliers to warm their wings.
Include Host Plants for Caterpillars
Purple flowers, such as butterfly bush and salvia, readily attract butterflies to stop in for a drink, even in a potted garden. Yellow (marigold, goldenrod, coreopsis) is another favorite. Butterflies will just as quickly investigate a purple stake or yellow sculpture, then be drawn to nearby nectar-filled blooms.
Flower Size Matters Too
Choose Native Plants Whenever Possible
Natives include the wildflowers flourishing along mountain streams, shrubs basking in the dappled light at the edge of a woodland, tall perennial flowers, and grasses deeply rooted in prairie soil. All of these and many more natives can adapt gracefully to similar conditions in a cultivated place. Start with plugs of Liatris, milkweed (Asclepias), and Echinacea to plant swaths of perennials for a meadow effect. If you have trouble finding a desired host plant such as pipevine, ask your local nursery to order it or find an online source.
Give 'Em Shelter
Butterflies have a hard time flying when it is windy, so site a garden near a wall or other protected place. Border gardens are a great place to start attracting butterflies. Combine plants of various heights (blanket flower, Shasta daisy, coneflower, black-eyed Susan) that will support each other and offer more stable places for butterflies to land.
Plant Color In Clumps
Avoid Using Chemicals
There is no place for pesticides and herbicides in a butterfly garden. Butterflies are insects and susceptible to toxic effects of chemicals. Opt for all-natural pest repellents.
Be a Lazy Gardener
Hold off on fall cleanup of annuals and perennials until spring. Some butterfly chrysalises overwinter in the garden among the foliage. Also, loosen your
view on tidiness and weeds. What many gardeners consider weeds are actually caterpillar host plants.