Planting to Attract Butterflies to Your Garden and Yard

I love butterflies. And I think that Robert Frost's description of butterflies as "flowers that fly and all but sing" is about as perfect a description of them ever written ....

Blue-Butterfly Day

It is blue-butterfly day here in spring, And with these sky-flakes down in flurry on flurry There is more unmixed color on the wing Than flowers will show for days unless they hurry. But these are flowers that fly and all but sing: And now from having ridden out desire They lie closed over in the wind and cling Where wheels have freshly sliced the April mire.

~Robert Frost

Butterflies not only add beauty and interest to a garden, but they are also great pollinators and can be very beneficial to your flowers and plants. Attracting butterflies to your garden is pretty easy ... just give them plenty of what they want: NECTAR.

Nectar is the sugary fluid secreted by plants (especially within flowers) to encourage pollination by insects. Nectar is what is collected by bees to make honey, but butterflies, hummingbirds, bats and moths also consume nectar as part of their daily diets. so, basically plant lots of nectar rich flowers and the butterflies will come!

Be sure to plant your 'butterfly garden' in a sunny area of your yard, since butterflies require the sun's warmth to fly. It's also a good idea to give them other places to land and rest (like stones), provide a water source, and shelter from the wind.

Plants that Attract Butterflies

Some of my favorite flowers that are nectar-rich and very attractive to adult butterflies (and bees and hummingbirds too!) are:

  • Agastache (Anise Hyssop)
  • Monarda (Bee Balm)
  • Buddleia (Butterfly Bush)
  • Centaurea (Cornflower)
  • Hemerocallis (Daylily)
  • Echinops (Globe Thistle)
  • Helenium (Helen's Flower)
  • Alcea (Hollyhock)
  • Lavendula (Lavender)
  • Syringa (Lilac)
  • Malva (Mallow)
  • Asclepias (Milkweed)
  • Phlox
  • Echinacea (Coneflower)
  • Eryngium (Sea Holly)
  • Chrysanthemum (Shasta Daisy)
  • Zinnia

Of course, if you  it's even better if you have plants and flowers that can also provide a food source for caterpillars.

Caterpillar food sources include:

  • Asclepias (Milkweed)
  • Thistle
  • Clover
  • Carrots
  • Dill
  • Parsley
  • Nasturtium
  • Marigolds
  • Cosmos
  • Impatiens
May 20 2014

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