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Attract Butterflies Plant A Butterfly Garden

Updated on September 5, 2014

Butterfly gardening has quickly become a popular past time for obvious reasons, who wouldn't enjoy butterflies flying around their garden. In this article I will explain a few tips to planting a butterfly-friendly garden that will not only look beautiful but will attract many types of wildlife.

First you must determine the types of butterflies that frequent your area.There are about 52 species of butterflies native to New Hampshire. Use this link to find native species in your state. butterfly species by state.

Location: You will want to plant your Butterfly garden in a place that receives 5-6 hours of sun per day. Butterflies need the sun to warm themselves, but can overheat. Your garden should also be sheltered from the wind. Butterflies do not want to continuously fight the wind while feeding.

Perches: Often over looked but very important. You.You will want to place a few large stones in garden. This will give your butterflies a warm place to rest between feedings. You will want to place these stone in direct sunlight for the best results.

Water: Butterflies need water just like all living creatures. This can be as simple as a sandy mud puddle that you can keep wet throughout the day or even a birdbath. Just remember that you will want to also keep it out of the wind.

Purple Coneflower
Purple Coneflower

In this article I will focus on butterfly species and plants native to New Hampshire because that is where i'm from. But you can use the link above to find species in you state. Once you determine which species frequent your state. You can then find plants that will attract them to your garden

Butterflies use two different plant types for feeding, plants that flower and produce nectar. This is for adult butterflies to feed. The second is plants that provide food for butterfly offspring. This plant is typically called a “Host plant.” When choosing adult feeding plants you can confer with your local nursery to determine which native plants produce the most nectar. I will give you some of the top nectar producers; Butterfly weed, purple coneflowers, New England Aster, Milkweed, Marigolds, Oregano and Butterfly Bush. If you plant a combination of these plants in your yard you will see more butterflies. But don't forget the Host plants!! The baby's need a nursery.

Host plant: Hackberry Tree
Host plant: Hackberry Tree

Host plants are vital to the butterfly garden. An adult butterfly will lay its eggs on these plants. Once the offspring are born they feed off these plants. Many local plants can be host plants. The caterpillars need to feed before they create their cocoons. As they feed your host plants may not look as nice or like they are sick or dying. Do not worry they are not. A young caterpillar eats a lot before it cocoons. When planning your garden plant the host plants in the rear of the garden to avoid noticing this. You can use this USDA plant guide to determine the best host plants for your area. Some common Host plants are Sunflowers, milkweed, hackberry, oak and wild cherry.

IMPORTANT: it is best to find species that are native to your area. Exotic species may look good but can be invasive. The butterflies in your area have been feeding on the local vegetation for centuries.


Garden Design: Now that you have chosen your plants. You will want to take some consideration in the garden design. You will want to place your host plants close to your nectar plants. Plant the larger plants like butterfly bush in the back of your garden and shorter plants in front. Also choose a mix of different blooming plants to ensure butterflies visit you new garden all season.

To increase butterfly traffic to your garden you can incorporate butterfly houses and butterfly feeders. Butterfly houses give butterflies a safe place to rest free from predators. Butterfly feeders are decorative and functional. They provide an alternative to the nectar plants you have planted. And they always produce food.

Native New Hampshire Butterfly species.


  • Astyanax- Red-Spotted Purple
  • Red-Spotted Purple
  • Viceroy
  • White Admiral


  • Aphrodite Fritillary
  • Arctic Fritillary
  • Atlantis Fritillary
  • Great Spangled Fritillary
  • Meadow Fritillary
  • Regal Fritillary
  • Silver-Bordered Fritillary
  • Variegated Fritillary

Milkweed Butterflies

  • Monarch


  • American Snouts


  • American lady
  • Baltimore
  • Common Buckeye
  • Compton Tortiseshell
  • Eastern Comma
  • Gray Comma
  • Green Comma
  • Harris’ Checkerspot
  • Hoary Comma
  • Milbert’s Tortiseshell
  • Mourning Cloak
  • Northern Crescent
  • Painted Lady
  • Pearl Crecent
  • Question mark
  • Red Admiral
  • Satyr Comma
  • Silvery Checerspot
  • Tawny Crescent


  • Harvester


  • Black Swallowtails
  • Canadian Tiger Swallowtail
  • Eastern Tiger Swallowtail
  • Giant Swallowtail
  • Pipevine Swallowtail
  • Spicebush Swallowtail


  • Columbine Dustywing
  • Common Sootywing
  • Dreamy Dustywing
  • Hoary Edge
  • Horace’s Dustywing
  • Juvenal’s Dustywing
  • Motted Dustywing
  • Northern Dustywing
  • Persius Dustywing
  • Silver-Spotted Skipper
  • Sleepy Dustywing
  • Southern Cloudywing
  • Wild Indigo Dustywing

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    iamaudraleigh 6 years ago

    What a cool hub! I want a butterfly garden!