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How to Get Butterflies to Visit Your Yard- Grow a Butterfly Garden

Updated on August 29, 2011
Monarch butterfly
Monarch butterfly | Source

A butterfly's needs are simple. Flowers for nectar, a place for shelter and a little bit of water are all you need to provide to keep them around.

Some people may like a perfectly manicured lawn, but it is not a butterfly`s favorite thing. First of all the chemicals and pesticides involved are very harmful to these little creatures.

Butterflies like flowers, and lots of them. Some they like for the nectar, some are a great place to lay their eggs. Variety is the key. Keep in mind different flowers bloom at different times of year. They need a continuous supply of nectar from late spring to early fall.

What To Plant

Look for flowers that have single, open blooms. It is easier for them to access the nectar. Colors matter. They are more attracted to medium-pale shades of purple, mauve, yellow and pink. They are not especially drawn to deep, dark colors, especially red. Stick with solid colors, not speckled or bi-colored flowers. Plant same colored flowers in large groups to make it easier for them to see as they are flying. They will visit because they know they will save energy in one large patch of same flowers.

Here are a few examples of flowers butterflies like:


  • aster
  • coreopsis
  • purple coneflower
  • liatris
  • monarda
  • phlox
  • rudbeckia
  • sebum
  • aster
  • bleeding heart
  • daisy
  • hollyhock
  • honeysuckle
  • lupin
  • phlox



  • ageratum
  • marigold
  • heliotrope
  • petunia
  • verbena
  • sunflower
  • morning glory
  • cosmos
  • snapdragon
  • zinnia
  • nasturtium
  • snapdragon
  • sweet alyssum
  • sweet william
  • yarrow


the wings-become-windows butterfly
the wings-become-windows butterfly | Source

More Needs You Can Help With

Some butterflies need nutrients that are not available in nectar. Things like mud puddles, manure piles and rotting fruit will attract certain species of butterflies.

Butterflies need water too. They prefer to drink from a muddy puddle to get minerals they need from the soil. Keep your garden damp. Or put out a shallow pan with sand and fill it with water.

They also need a place to rest. They want to be protected from the wind, so plant some flowers against a fence or shrub. They like little nooks and crannies to hide from predators, such as a hollow log, wood pile or loose tree bark.

Butterflies are warm weather creatures. In fact they need long, hot summers for ideal growing conditions. If it is less than 30 degrees Celsius, they will land on a black rock or dark surface to allow their wings to absorb heat, so they can fly again.

May the wings of the butterfly kiss the sun
And find your shoulder to light on,
To bring you luck, happiness and riches
Today, tomorrow and beyond.
~Irish Blessing

Why should I attract butterflies to my yard in the first place?

In addition to being beautiful and brightening the day of any one they flutter past, butterflies are also good pollinators. They are also in danger. Out of approximately 300 species of butterflies in Canada, 100 of them are at some level of risk of extinction. But why?

One of the main reasons is habitat loss. Many of the grassy, weedy areas that butterflies need to survive are mown down or sprayed with pesticides. What we call weeds can be a butterflies home or a good source of their food.

Help them out by having a butterfly friendly yard!


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    • daisyjae profile image

      daisyjae 4 years ago from Canada

      A mini forest ~ thats such a cute way to think of it! Thanks for your comments, Thelma.

    • Thelma Alberts profile image

      Thelma Alberts 4 years ago from Germany

      Hi daisyjae! After a few months of planting flowers in my garden, I noticed several butterflies and birds visiting my plants. As what my father said, I have now a mini forest in front of our house where birds and butterflies come by. They are awesome to watch. Thanks for sharing your knowledge;-)

    • Angelo52 profile image

      Angelo52 5 years ago from Central Florida

      I have Silky Gold milkweed in my flower gardens. The local Monarch butterflies seem to like them quite a bit and the flower clusters a vivid yellow (very pretty). They are covered in a couple of articles I have written. Nice article and good to know of other flowers that attract butterflies.

    • whonunuwho profile image

      whonunuwho 5 years ago from United States

      Thanks for reminding us that there is a Spring and Summer in which to look forward to, and a time when we may enjoy the beauty of the butterflies. whonu

    • Kris Heeter profile image

      Kris Heeter 5 years ago from Indiana

      I love butterflies. Kind of sorry to hear that some like/need manure to feed on. It's hard to picture a beautiful butterfly sitting a pile of smelly manure but that's the circle of life:) Great hub!

    • mary615 profile image

      Mary Hyatt 5 years ago from Florida

      The Monarch is one of the most beautiful of all the butterflies, I think. I like your opening photo of one. I buy Milkweed plants so they have a place to lay their eggs and to feed on. That is one of my many hobbies: raising butterflies. I wrote a Hub about the life cycle of the butterfly. Check it out when you have some time; you may enjoy it.

      This is a good informative Hub. I voted it up, etc. and will share.

    • daisyjae profile image

      daisyjae 6 years ago from Canada

      They are fun to watch, movie master. Thanks for reading and commenting.

    • Movie Master profile image

      Movie Master 6 years ago from United Kingdom

      Hi daisyjae, what's more lovely than watching butterflies having a good time in your garden! thank you for sharing lots of useful information on attracting those little beauties!