Attracting butterflies to your garden or farm, for pollinating and for sheer enjoyment, can be done through careful selection of plants that the butterflies enjoy.
Be aware that each type of butterfly has its own plant preferences. You'll need to do some research online or at the library to match plants to the exact type of butterflies you'd like to attract. However, the following list provides some general examples of plants enjoyed by many butterflies. It is a good idea to try to find a selection of plants liked in common by a variety of butterflies, so as to encourage a wider range of them. However, if you're trying to attract some endangered butterflies, then focus on their favourite plants the most.
Nectar and host plants[edit | edit source]
Butterflies rely on specific plants for nectar and as host plants:
- Nectar plants provide the butterflies with nectar.
- Host plants are used for laying eggs. The caterpillars that emerge must be able to eat the host plant to survive.
Some butterflies use the same plant for both purposes, while other butterflies need different plants.
List of plants butterflies like[edit | edit source]
This is an evolving list, to be added to as readers wish:
- Blue cardinal flowers (Eastern Tiger Swallowtail butterflies like this)
- Buddleia (also known as the "butterfly bush")
- Coneflowers (purple, Echninacea purpurea and yellow)
- Joe-pye weed (Black Swallowtail butterfly likes this)
- Swan plant (Gomphocarpus physocarpus), a species of milkweed - especially attractive to Monarch butterflies
Planting a butterfly garden[edit | edit source]
Select the butterfly plants according to suitability both for the butterflies you're seeking to attract and for the environment you're in.
Plant in a suitable part of the garden, yard or field. The area should receive plentiful sun but be well sheltered too. A warm wall, fenced area or pergola can be good places to plant against.
Add a drinking zone too. Use a ceramic dish or clay saucer for adding water to. Drop in a little salt and sand to make the water more attractive to the butterflies. Place it near the desirable plants.
Things to bear in mind[edit | edit source]
- Avoid spraying butterfly attractant plants with chemicals, pesticides or insecticides. Keep these growing organically.
- If other pests need to be removed, try trapping or find solutions that won't also impact the butterflies.
- Avoid choosing plants that have the potential to turn into invasive species in your locale.