How to Plant a Butterfly Garden Like a Pro Gardener

A Butterfly Garden will give you plenty of relaxation and enjoyment. Typically, the main thing to know about how to plant a butterfly garden is more about plants and plant selection than design. Certain flowers and plants will attract certain types of butterflies and if you plant these you will find that butterflies flock to your garden to sip on the nectar of the plants and sit in idle beauty waiting for you to view or photograph them.

Butterfly Gardens

A butterfly garden is a great addition to your garden as it can be used year round which means year round gardening. which means year round gardening.. It’s also very easy to maintain so there are no worries with watering or weeding. The best part is that they don’t need much space at all! You just have to make sure that you provide enough of a food source such as milkweed, sunflowers, marigolds, dill, basil, etc. Butterflies love to visit this type of garden because it provides them with everything they need and for this project only a few types of garden tools are needed, and for this project only a few types of garden tools are needed,. Be sure to purchase a pair of garden gloves before attempting this.. Be sure to purchase a pair of garden gloves before attempting this.. They’ll enjoy eating from the many different kinds of nectars which include milkweeds, sunflowers, dill, basil and other herbs. Butterflies like to lay their eggs on the leaves of the host plant but sometimes they may choose to lay theirs elsewhere. This means that you should keep an eye out for any signs of egg laying and remove those before they hatch into larvae.

Butterfly Species

Butterflies across the globe vary in a wide range, However the most species of butterfly found in North America are:

The Monarch – Danaus Plexippus

Monarch butterflies have been known by various names including “the monarch” and “the emperor”. Monarchs migrate northward each spring and southward each fall. In order to survive during migration, they must eat large amounts of pollen and nectar. During winter months, they hibernate under loose bark or inside tree cavities.

Painted Lady – Vanessa Cardui

These small butterflies live only one season. Painted ladies feed primarily on flower nectar. Their wings are covered in black spots and white stripes. Females lay their eggs singly on the underside of leaves. Larvae develop within three weeks after hatching.

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail – Papilio Glaucus

Tiger swallowtails are named for the dark bands along their bodies. These insects spend the summer feeding on sap-sucking aphids. When autumn comes around, they migrate back to Mexico where they overwinter until spring when they return again.

Holly Blue – Lycaeides melissa samuelis. The Holly blue is a medium sized butterfly with greenish yellow eyespots on its hindwings. Its caterpillars feed mainly on honeysuckle vines. Adults fly between June and September.

Common Buckeye – Junonia Coenia

Buckeyes are commonly seen flying over fields of wildflowers. They prefer to rest near open areas rather than dense vegetation. Adult bucoles usually mate in late May and early June. Eggs are laid on the undersides of leaves. Caterpillar development takes approximately two weeks.

Black Skipper – Pyrgus Alveus

Skippers are often mistaken for moths due to their long antennae. Black skippers are common throughout eastern Canada and northern United States. They feed mostly on grasshoppers and crickets. Males tend to gather together while females seek mates. Mating occurs in mid-June. Female skippers lay their eggs singly beneath the leaf surface.

Cabbage White – Pieris Rapae

White cabbage whites are among the first butterflies to emerge in the spring. Cabbages whites are attracted to light colored flowers. They typically feed on honeydew secreted by aphid colonies.

Host Plants

This family includes several genera of annual herbaceous flowering plants native to temperate regions worldwide. Common milkweed, American lotus, swamp milkweed, spotted knapweed, and Virginia stocktonia. All members of this genus produce milky latex exuding through wounds made by chewing animals. Some species contain toxic alkaloids called cardiotonic glycosides.


Native to southern Europe and western Asia, cultivated since ancient times for its edible seeds. Also grown commercially for oil production.


The most popular ornamental sunflower has bright orange ray petals surrounding an inner circle of golden yellow disk florets. It grows best in full sunlight but can tolerate partial shade as well. Marigolds bloom from July to October.


Also known as Lantana camara, it’s a tropical shrub which produces fragrant blooms year round. This perennial vine spreads rapidly via underground rhizomes. Flowers appear at the end of branches and may be red, pink, purple, lavender, or white. Leaves grow opposite pairs of leaflets.


An evergreen shrub found in dry habitats across North America. Sagebrush is used extensively for landscaping because of its drought tolerance and ability to withstand windy conditions. Native Americans used sagebrush for medicinal purposes.

In fact the list goes on with many more:

  • Milkweeds
  • Honeysuckles
  • Wild Roses
  • Sweet Alyssum
  • Goldenrod
  • Queen Anne’s lace
  • Lupines
  • Violets
  • Dandelions
  • Borage
  • Lavenders
  • Geraniums
  • Cosmos
  • Zinnias
  • Coreopsis
  • Echinacea
  • Chrysanthemums
  • Helianthus
  • Phlox
  • Salvia
  • Tansy
  • Evening Primrose
  • Foxglove
  • Rosemary
  • Thyme
  • Mint
  • Basil
  • Oregano
  • Parsley
  • Catmint

Butterfly Life Cycle

Life cycle stages include egg, larva, pupa and adult. The life span of each stage varies depending upon temperature and food availability. Butterflies have four wings; forewings, hindwings, dorsal wing covers and ventral wing covers. Each pair of wings consists of veins covered with scales. Wings are attached to body using small hooks called halteres. These tiny organs help balance the insect during flight.


Female butterflies lay single eggs on host plants. Egg shells are thin and transparent allowing insects to see out. Larvae hatch within 24 hours after being deposited.


Larvae eat only one type of plant. Most caterpillars spin silken cocoons where they undergo metamorphosis into chrysalises. Chrysalises remain dormant until ready to break free as adults.


Adults do not hibernate like other insects. Adults fly around looking for suitable places to spend winter. Females lay eggs on new growth emerging from last season’s foliage. After hatching larvae consume all parts of the plant including roots.

Creating a Butterfly Garden

A butterfly garden can be incorporated into nearly any landscaping project or currently existing design, The most important part of a butterfly garden, will be the kinds of plants and flowers that will attract the butterflies and serve them well as food, or nectar.

Even better then a zen garden, butterfly garden is a remarkably easy way to see more of the butterflies that we all love and to help toward saving their environment since it has in fact been slowly decreased more and more each year and created some natural habitat issues with the urbanization of nearly every country on earth. Natural butterfly habitats have become scarcer in number as homes and factories increase.

It is easy to raise the number and types of butterflies that you see in your garden or yard simply by planting the plants that they like to feed on and plants on which they like to lay eggs. Caterpillar friendly plants are also an important aspect of butterfly gardens.

Attract beautiful butterflies like this Monarch to your garden! Plants with various blooms which cycle according to seasons will work well when placed together to assure that your garden blooms from early spring to late fall, and remains active all throughout the butterfly and the growing season in your area.

A butterfly garden can be any size at all, even down to a window box on your sill, or as great as an entire field of untended wildflowers left to grow at will on your property. When you begin to plan your garden try to stay within the realm of plants that occur in nature in your area.

Things such as milkweed will be great draws to nearly any type of butterfly, however another tip might be, to learn what butterflies are most common in your area. What will naturally be drawn to your area is what you might like to plant for when choosing plants to incorporate into your garden.

Avoid using pesticides in your garden to make your butterfly garden a friendly habitat. The adult butterflies will stay for longer periods of time if they find plants on which they feel at ease laying eggs as well as nectar plants for food. To improve your butterfly garden, if possible, and it won’t make you too crazed, try to permit your lawn to grow dandelions and some clover which are both plants that butterflies are drawn to.

Minimize the use of pesticides and herbicides, both of which can harm not only the ground and the plants but also the butterflies themselves.

Flowers which are provided in sunny places such as around a rock wall or a fenced area will attract more as they will want to sit and bask in the sun as they eat, while also having some bush and shrub areas to provide shade in the heat of the day and to protect them from wind and rain.

As you watch you will see the elaborate routines that butterflies have. Males will drive others away, while females choose so carefully where to lay their eggs. All in all, it is well worth your time and an extra dandelion in the yard isn’t it?

Want to see exactly how it’s done? Click here.