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How to build a butterfly garden

Attract butterflies to your yard by building a butterfly garden. Butterfly gardens can range in size from a few pots or containers in a sunny spot or cover your entire yard.

There are many butterfly attracting plants that are native to your area and require little or no attention. They are naturally adapted to the region in which they live.

Butterfly gardens are best planted inthe spring with younger plants. You can also plant more mature plants in the fall that will quickly become dormant and re-emerge in the spring. Different species of butterflies have different preferences of nectar, in both colors and tastes. You will want to plant a wide variety of food plants that will give the greatest diversity of visitors. Butterflies like a variety of colors, so you will want to mix pleenty of colors in your garden. Rather than plant single plants, you will want to plant in groups. This makes the colors easier for the butterflies to spot. The type of plants that you will want to plant to attract particular types of butterflies are detailed in the chart below.

One of the most common mistakes in butterfly gardening is planting only one nectar source. Butterflies have a very short lifespan. Planting a variety of nectar sources will encourage more butterflies to visit your garden.

All insects (including butterflies) are cold blooded and cannot internally regulate their body temperature. Butterflies will bask in the sun when it is warm out, but few can be seen on cloudy days. It is a good idea to leave a few open areas in a yard for butterflies to sun themselves, as well as partly shady areas like trees or shrubs to they can hide when it is cloudy or cool off it is very hot.

Butterflies also need water. Males of several species gather at small rain pools. Permanent water sources are very easy to make by burying a bucket to the rim and filling it with sand or gravel, then pouring in water.

Flowers and plants that attract butterflies

Butterfly Nectar Plants Host Plants
Monarch Milkweed, Lantana, Zinnias Milkweed Family
Black Swallowtail Butterflyweed, Phlox, Clover Parsley, Fennel, Dill
Tiger Swallowtail Butterfly Bush, Lilac, Bee Balm Wild cherry, Willow, Tulip tree
Red-Spotted Purple Cardinal flower, Spirea, Viburnum Willow, Aspen, Cherry, Oak, Plum
Sulphers Red cannas, marigolds, verbena Clover, Senna, Pea family
Red Admiral Daisies, sap, Milkweed, Mint Nettle family, Hops
Painted Lady Cosmos, Thistle, Buttonbush, Aster Thistle, Mallow, Hollyhock
Viceroy Garlic Chives, Joe-Pye Weed, Aster Willow, Aspen, Cherry, Oak, Plum
Checkered White Centaury, Butterflyweed, Aster Mustard, Cabbage, Clover
Pearl Crescents New England Aster, Cosmos Asters
Buckeye Aster, Coreopsis, Chicory Plantain, Snapdragon, Toadflax
Comma Butterfly Bush, Aster Hops, Nettle, Elm
Small Copper Goldenrod, Yarrow Sheep sorrel, Curled dock
Variegated Fritillary Clover, Daisies, Coneflowers Violet, Passion Vine, Stonecrop
Spring Azure Buckeye, Viiolet, Dandelion Dogwood, New Jersey Tea
Gray Hairstreak Goldenrod, Clover, Milkweed Hibiscus, Vetch, Clover, Mallow

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