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7 Steps to a Thriving Butterfly Garden

Updated on July 15, 2019
Kenna McHugh profile image

Kenna writes about the care of plants (indoors, outdoors, and in gardens). She wrote an orchid care booklet—a companion piece for workshops.

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Steps to Creating a Butterfly Garden

Butterflies are considered by many as one of the most beautiful creatures in the world. With over 28,000 species identified on the planet, you may have seen one or two species in your life like the butterfly monarch. If you desire to see more butterflies around your home, a butterfly garden is a simple but rewarding way to enjoy these colorful creatures.

1. Research the Type of Butterflies in Your Area

Make a list of the type of butterflies that thrive in the area where you live. Scroll down to the link at the end of this article, click on it, and discover the type of butterflies that live or migrate to your area. Note the kind of butterflies and months of the year they are predominantly in your area. Make a list of butterflies in your area, and decide which ones you’d like to have in your garden based on the information. Consider the time of year and what you can grow in your garden during that time. Most likely, the plants coincide with the time the butterflies arrive in your region.

“Butterflies are self propelled flowers.”

— Robert A. Heinlein

2. Type of Plants Attract the Butterflies

After you have made your list of butterflies, you want to attract to your garden, continue your research and discover what plants you need to attract the butterflies you picked.

Plants that attract butterflies are called butterfly nectar plants and butterfly host plants. Butterfly Bush is a popular plant as well.

Once you find out what type of plants your desired butterflies need, you then find out about the plants.

You need to know:
What the plants look like

  • Do they match the rest of your garden
  • How much room do they need to grow
  • Are they annuals or perennials
  • How do you care for them

3. Plan Your Garden

Based on your research of the type of butterflies and the type of plants, decide how big you want your garden to be.

Sketch a rough diagram of how you want to design the garden. Like placing the annuals in front of the garden, so they are easier to replace every year. Add a water fountain or birdbath. Consider getting topsoil and other gardening products. Now, you have an idea of how many plants and items to purchase at the nursery.

4. Buy Your Plants and Garden Supplies

Go to the neighborhood nursery and purchase your plants, soil, and other gardening items. Ask the staff when is the best time to plant, how to grow the plants, and if there are any special needs. Take the plants home and prepare them for planting.

5. Plant Your Garden

Consider your garden design, and see if it changed since visiting the nursery. Once you know the design you want is sound, start placing our plants according to your sketch of the garden.

Once everything is laid out and planted, step back, and appreciate all your hard work. You are helping colorful butterflies have a garden and a home for them to live their brief lives.

6. Add Garden Accessories

Step back and admire your garden. Notice areas where you can place a couple of butterfly accessories like a butterfly house or a nectar source. The butterfly house has slits, which will protect the butterflies from birds and other elements.

T.S Sure has a wooden butterfly house that you or your kids put it together and paint. I recommend this butterfly house because it is simple and not expensive.
Nectar source is a flowering plant that offers more food for the butterflies, which will attract even more butterflies and encourage them to stay. You might have enough nectar sources, but consider these flowers after your garden is flourishing for a month or more.

  • Daisy
  • Sunflower
  • Petunia
  • Zinnia
  • Marigold
  • Mustard Seed
  • Lavender

7. Caterpillars

Caterpillars need to eat, too, when they hatch from the eggs the female butterfly laid. They are pickier than their parents, so include plants they will like to eat. Add plant pawpaw or zebra swallowtails. I even heard they like milkweed, or include passion vines and maypops or other passion vines.

Taking care of caterpillars is part of maintaining a butterfly garden.
Taking care of caterpillars is part of maintaining a butterfly garden. | Source

Your Butterfly Garden

Not only have you created a lush and thriving place to watch butterflies, but you also created a haven for butterflies to live and breed.

You help many butterfly species to continue to survive in your neighborhood. Now, you can maintain the garden as the seasons continue throughout the year.

“We don't see snakes because they wear suits, but we see butterflies because they wear pajamas.”

— Anthony T. Hincks

© 2017 Kenna McHugh

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    • Kenna McHugh profile imageAUTHOR

      Kenna McHugh 

      3 weeks ago from Northern California

      You are welcome, Holly. Butterfly gardens are rewarding in so many ways.

    • profile image

      Holly Koeller 

      3 weeks ago

      Thank you 4 these tips as all i really love to see is my garden filled with wild life and bugs .....it is such pure and innocent beauty ...Love till the End of time xxoo

    • Kenna McHugh profile imageAUTHOR

      Kenna McHugh 

      2 years ago from Northern California

      I just love seeing a butterfly, don't you?

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