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Besides the sheer pleasure and beauty of turning a still garden into a suddenly moving one, there are many good reasons to plant a butterfly garden. For many of us, though, seeing the sheer delight of a four-year-old following butterflies around a garden is reason enough to offer habitat. Thankfully, planting a butterfly garden is an act of stewardship toward the wider environment that is confirmed and compelled by our own personal enjoyment. Here’s some tips for attracting butterflies to your garden:

  • Full sun is the best place for butterflies since most butterflies need body temperatures of 80 degrees Fahrenheit in order to fly.
  • Single flowers are more open and accessible to butterflies than the more heavily-petaled double flowers.
  • Hybridized flowers tend to be selected for characteristics other than nectar supply and therefore are less likely to be good nectar producers.
  • Flowers with disc centers offer an easy access “landing platform” for pollinators.
  • Milkweeds are some of the best plants for butterflies. An added benefit is that common milkweed is bad-tasting, so predators quickly learn to avoid eating the larvae.
  • One of the best nectar sources is something we grow without trying… the common dandelion attracts gossamer wings, vanessids and skippers. Another common weed, the thistle, is particularly popular with monarchs.
  • Creating low, damp “puddling” areas attracts young males; they use their probosces to withdraw minerals from the wet soil.
  • Shelter from wind and rain is essential. Thick grasses like little bluestem or switchgrass, as well as vines and shrubs, are good sources of protection
  • For many flowering plants, the removal of nectar stimulates more production of it.
Here are a list of plants that attract butterflies:
  • Allium
  • Yarrow
  • Amsonia
  • Aster
  • Baptisia
  • Clematis
  • Coreopsis
  • Echinacea
  • Eupatorium
  • Gailardia
  • Heliopsis
  • Daylily
  • Hardy Hibiscus
  • Lavender
  • Daisy
  • Liatris
  • Monarda
  • Nepeta
  • Penstemon
  • Perovskia
  • Phlox
  • Sedum
  • Solidago
  • Native Grasses