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Growing a Butterfly Garden

Updated on November 12, 2015

The Garden After the Tree Was Cut Down

The Garden setting after the tree was cut in 2009.  The butterflies were added after planting in 2010
The Garden setting after the tree was cut in 2009. The butterflies were added after planting in 2010

A Little Background Story

Having always wanted a garden area that would attract butterflies our opportunity came when we had to cut down a tree in our yard.

Unfortunately my husband decided that the full grown 19 year old Linden tree could be cut down with out any help from others. Not knowing that he was tackling this venture I came home to hear a loud thump outside the window. "I think I broke my wrist" my husband tells me and we drive off to the nearest emergency room.

Surgery would be necessary but this was Saturday and it would be a long Memorial weekend before he could be scheduled to see the doctor. Fortunately he was able to have it on Wednesday that same week but in the mean time my one handed husband and I decided to clean up the debris the tree left behind.

I have to laugh now as I drove the chainsaw throw the wood planks and cut them up to be sent off with a family friend. I am no lumber jack but in order to get hubby to rest I took action. The following week I called a tree professional and asked them to finish grinding the stump and removing the rest. Good thing the Linden tree is a soft wood otherwise I would have never been able to drive the saw or the ax through it.

Planning out the Garden

Planning the garden layout
Planning the garden layout

Planning out the Garden Layout

Since the summer was so hectic with surgery and a new grand baby we laid out the shape of the garden and added some bricks around it.

The plants that were placed in the garden were perennials from other areas of the yard that we had extras in. Most of the plants were Hostas, Sedums, and Black-eyed Susans. These were placed in temporary spots until we made plans for the following spring in order to plant our new garden.

Planning a garden layout is easy. Look for bricks or other border materials that suit your garden and layout the area that you want to place the garden. Be sure the area is what you like and the start putting the border in place permanently This may take some trial and error at first before placing the border in a permanent position. Add top soil and layout the plants according to how you want them to be placed in the garden. Make sure to give plants room to grow by placing enough space in between each plant.

Picking Plants for the Garden

The Beginning of the Garden
The Beginning of the Garden
After the plants begin to Bloom
After the plants begin to Bloom

Picking Plants for the Garden

Depending on what type of butterflies are in your area should determine what types of plants you can use for a butterfly garden. We live near Lake Michigan and are zone 4-5 and some of the plants we enjoy are Zinnias, Sedum, Hydrangeas and other flowering plants.

When planting a garden to attract butterflies try to place your garden in an area that receives at least 5-6 hours of sunshine a day and that are sheltered from the wind. Butterflies need to warm themselves but they don't want to be in an area where they are constantly fighting the wind.

Butterflies enjoy two different types of plants those that provide nectar for the adults and those that provide food for the offspring (nectar plants for adults, host plants for offspring). It is best to research what plants work best in your area instead of purchasing a bunch of exotic plants.

Butterflies also enjoy having water near by so try to keep a bird bath, mud puddle, or water bucket close by.

Do not use pesitcides in your garden. Try to grow your garden as organically as possible. By doing this you will also attract hummingbirds and other garden birds besides butterflies.

Our garden is a work in progress. We have planted Zinnias, Hydrangeas, Black-eyed Susans, Sedums, Mums, Marigolds a Japanese Maple Tree, and a variety of miscellaneous plants. The design is pretty much all over the place this year but next year we are planning on redesigning the site by placing taller plants near the back of the planting area and smaller ones towards the front.

We have a mixture of annuals and perennials in the garden area but come spring it will probably be mainly perennials for the butterfly area and annuals in the rest of the yard. It is always a work in progress but it is well worth it to see the swarm of butterflies coming in during the later summer months.

The butterflies were plentiful this year.  I have added several butterfly photos to my garden collection.  The Eastern Swallowtail, Monarchs, and many others visited our lovely garden area and enjoyed a bit of heaven here on earth.  

Butterflies in the Garden

Eastern Swallowtail
Eastern Swallowtail
Butterfly on Marigold
Butterfly on Marigold
Monarch Butterflies on Zinnia Flowers
Monarch Butterflies on Zinnia Flowers
Four Butterflies on the Sedum
Four Butterflies on the Sedum

Monarch Butterfly

A Butterfly in Flight and one on the flower
A Butterfly in Flight and one on the flower
Two Monarch Butterflies enjoying the Sedum
Two Monarch Butterflies enjoying the Sedum


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    • profile image


      8 years ago

      I love your garden. I too plant zinnas, sedum and marigolds just to attract the butterflys.

    • boxxies profile image


      8 years ago

      I just loved what you did in that spot where the tree used to be.

      Beautiful flowers.


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