How to Plant a Butterfly Garden


Butterflies are beautiful additions to any backyard and are also wonderful pollinators. I make sure to plant things in my garden to attract lots of butterflies each spring. In order to do this, it's important to plant a mix of 'nectar' plants that adult butterflies love - to entice them to hang around and lay their eggs, as well as 'food' or host plants for the caterpillars that hatch - to provide them energy and nutrition as they grow and eventually become butterflies themselves. 

Butterflies can actually see more colors than humans can, but they are near-sighted, so they have trouble seeing a single flower.  Try planting clumps of flowers together for them to spot more easily.

Butterflies are particularly attracted to red, orange and yellow, pink and purple flowers. Plants that attract butterflies are often the same ones that attract hummingbirds and bees, so there are multiple benefits to this type of garden. And the thing that makes my version even more special is that all the plants are not only edible for humans, but your chickens will enjoy health benefits from eating them as well! There are lots of plants that butterflies love that aren't edible, including butterfly bush, milkweed and others, but by planting edible plants, we can all share in the bounty!


Planning your Butterfly Garden

Butterflies love sunlight, so you will want to pick a sunny spot for your butterfly garden. Stones in the garden provide a nice, warm place for the butterflies to land and sunbathe, as well as add visual interest to your garden. It's not necessary to provide a water source, but a small bird bath makes a pretty addition to any garden and the butterflies and bees will appreciate it as well as the song birds. Even  a small area where the water puddles after a rainstorm will help to attract (and keep) pollinators in the area.

These are some of my favorites to plant in my Butterfly Garden. They are all edible for humans and are a nutritious addition to your chickens' diet as well. Letting your herbs go to flower will help to attract the butterflies, bees and hummingbirds.


Butterfly Nectar Plants

Aster        Basil        Bee Balm        Echinacea

Goldenrod         Hyssop       Lemon Balm      Marigold

Marjoram       Phlox        Pineapple Sage      Sunflower     Zinnia


Caterpillar Host/Food Plants

Borage        Carrots      Clover      Daisy

Dill     Fennel    Milkweed  Nasturtium

Parsley      Peas         Violets

To some extent, what you want to choose to plant will depend on the types of butterflies in your area, or that you want to attract, for example, Monarch caterpillars eat the milkweed leaves, black swallowtail caterpillars eat  dill, parsley, carrot and fennel, while painted lady caterpillars eat thistles leaves. 


Try planting some of these plants in your garden this spring and see if you can attract some butterflies. And remember, don't use pesticides ... the butterflies don't like them  - and they're not good for your family or chickens either!

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