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How to get started with Butterfly Gardening


One of the most fascinating and most rewarding hobbies currently drawing in thousands of enthusiasts from all over the world is butterfly gardening. It is a hobby that has the potential to mesmerize both owners and viewers for hours and hours, and it seems that all your worldly cares just melt away when faced with the awesome spectacle of dozens of brilliantly colored winged creatures frolicking about in a garden of your own creation. Butterflies are of course some of the most elegant, the most majestic, and simply the most awe inspiring winged creatures around, and the desire to have them flying around freely outside your own home is what inspires so many people to figure out how to grow butterfly gardens.

Fortunately, as impressive as the final results of your butterfly garden can be, they are not that hard to create. Butterfly gardens can flourish virtually anywhere in the United States, and many of the most necessary plants can be found in abundance throughout the country.

Butterfly gardens also do not have to be expensive at all. They can be as simple as a few choice plants strategically located to attract as many butterflies as possible. Of course if you so wish and you have the land and the money for the plants, your butterfly garden can encompass several acres. The choice is really up to you, and the good thing about it is that no matter how small or how large your butterfly g

arden is, it will surely be an impressive sight to behold.

Before you start putting together your butterfly garden, it would be helpful to know what the most basic requirements are. These are: abundant sunlight throughout most of the day, plants that are a source of nectar, host plants for the butterfly larvae, a location that is free from pesticides, and finally an in depth knowledge of the most common species of butterfly in your locale.

In terms of plants, your work is cut out for you as most of the plants that will attract butterflies are probably native to your area, and you can easily obtain them from a plant supplier or nursery if you do not already have them in your garden. You may be surprised to find that a good number of the plants that you already have in your yard are capable of attracting scores of butterflies on their own, and that you will only need to purchase one or two select plants or even none at all.

The Internet is a great source of information regarding how to grow butterfly gardens, but do not neglect other sources of information as well. You can probably pick up a lot of helpful tips and tricks from your local zoos, botanical gardens, and maybe even from an established commercial butterfly garden in your area. Butterfly gardening is a hobby that tends to bring out the best in people, and it is almost certain that everyone will only be too happy to help out.

What is butterfly gardening?

The design your butterfly garden is a matter of personal preference. Typical points to consider are the size of your garden and the types of flowers and plants you want to grow. Pick a style of garden that appeals to you, but ensure it also contains the plants and flowers that appeal to the butterflies you wish to attract.

It is important to find out which plants and flowers will attract the species of butterflies. that live in your area. This information can be found at the local library
To create the kind of environment that they find attractive, you will also need water of some kind. A birdbath will look attractive and keep the butterflies up off the ground, away from stray cats or mischievous puppies. A shallow dish on a post or hung in a tree will do just as well.

When planting your butterfly garden be careful how you coordinate the colors you choose for your flowerbeds. Although butterflies do not care about your choice of color, you don’t want your garden to be a hodgepodge of unrelated colors and textures. Butterflies are attracted to those flowers that have nectar rather than pollen, like honeysuckle, milkweed, summer lilac, Valerian, daisies, Purple Coneflower, Yellow Sage, day lilies and lavender.

Some people find it helpful to draw and color a layout of their butterfly gardening plan to see what the finished product would look like. Keep in mind that warm colors like red and orange are flashy and showy. These colors have a greater impact against a strong green background. Cool colors such as blue and purple are soothing and toned down and would work better with a white contrast to create the look of freshness and brightness.

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Butterfly Garden Plants

If you want to butterfly garden then you need to know what plants attract butterflies.  So here is a list of some of the plants that can be used to attract butterflies.



    Bee balm

    Bush cinquefolia    

    Butterfly bush

    Butterfly plant







    Ornamental thistles



    Sweet pea



Spring Blooming Plants:
Hinckley Columbine (Aquilegia hinckleyana)
Mexican Plum (Prunus mexicana)
Larkspur (Delphinium sp.)
Bluebonnets (Lupinus texensis)
Redbud (Cercis canadensis var. texensis)
Rock Rose (Pavonia lasiopetala)
Texas Betony (Stachys coccinea)    
Yarrow (Achillea millefolium)
Wildflowers: Indian Blanket, Coreopsis, Thistle, Purple Horsemint, Paintbrush, etc.
Angel’s Trumpet (Datura sp.)
Mealy Blue Sage (Salvia farinacea)


Summer Blooming Plants:

Indigo Spires (Salvia sp.)
Summer Phlox (Phlox paniculata)
Butterfly Bush (Buddleia davidii)                
Lantana (Lantana sp.)
Mexican Sunflower (Tithonia rotundifolia)
Purple Coneflower (Echinacea purpurea)    
Buttonbush (Cephalanthus occidentalis)
Butterfly Weed (Asclepias curassavica)
Black-eyed Susan ‘Goldstrum’ (Rudbeckia hirta)
Zinnia Sunflowers (Helianthus sp.)
Pride of Barbados (Poinciana pulcherima)


Fall Blooming Plants:
Maximillian Sunflowers (Helianthus maximiliani) 
Gayfeather (Liatris)
Mistflower (Eupatorium sp.)
Mexican Bush Sage (Salvia leucantha)
Purple Aster (Aster oblongifolius)    
Mexican Mint Marigold (Tagetes lucida)
Rosemary (upright or trailing)
Goldenrod (Solidago canadensis)


Larval Food Plants:

Plants that provide food for caterpillars
Fennel, Parsley, Dill, Rue (Eastern Black swallowtail)
Passionvine (Gulf Fritillary)   
Hop Tree, Toothache Tree, Rue (Giant Swallowtail)
Pipevine (Pipevine Swallowtail)
Flame Acanthus (Janais Patch)
Butterflyweed/Milkweed Family (Monarch, Queen)
Native Grasses: Sideoats Gramma, Little and Big Bluestem Honeysuckle (Clearwing)   
Hackberry (Snout Butterfly, Hackberry Butterfly)
Oak (Hairstreaks and others)
Willows, Ashes, Cherry (Tiger Swallowtail)
Nettles (Red Admiral)
Senna, Clover, and other legumes (Sleepy Orange)
Mallows (White Checkered Skipper)
Muhly Grass, Indian Grass, Inland Sea Oats Sunflower, Ragweed, Cowpen Daisy (Bordered Patch)

In addition to planting some or all of these plants, consider a butterfly feeder and a butterfly house.

Good luck in attracting hundreds of butterflies.