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butterfly garden ideas - butterflies on aster flowers

10 butterfly garden ideas

Are you planting a butterfly garden this year? It’s a fantastic way to give way to the ecosystem and provide a safe place for butterflies after a long journey. Creating a homey space with plenty of amenities might be daunting but it’s actually quite easy. I created a list of 10 things you can incorporate into your butterfly garden to not only attract them but keep them comfortable year after year. Keep reading to learn more.

1. Start with must-have butterfly-friendly plants

The easiest butterfly-friendly plants to put into your garden are local native plants. These plants will have nectar and pollen from your area that butterflies already know and love. Some great plants for butterflies include:

  • Aster
  • Bee Balm
  • Milkweed
  • Black-Eyed Susan
  • Cardinal Flower
  • Yarrow
  • Liatris
  • Columbine
  • Echinacea

While these are common plants to use in butterfly gardens, look up species of plants that are native to your area and safe for butterflies. You’ll be able to find some great plants at local nurseries and stores.

Monarch butterfly feeding on milkweed flowers

2. Plant caterpillar-friendly plants

If you want butterflies to return year after year, plant caterpillar-friendly host plants for them to lay their eggs. Butterflies love milkweed plants, so a few of these is a must. Over the years, you will see eggs as well as caterpillars and their chrysalis. It’s so cool to see the transformation year after year.

Butterflies will return each year to spaces they feel are safe. If you’re lucky, you’ll get to see generations of butterflies coming back each season. This is especially cool for kids to witness!

3. Build a butterfly shelter

An easy way to provide natural shelter for butterflies is to add a log or bush to your butterfly garden. They can easily hide inside from predators that may visit the garden.

Local nurseries also create butterfly houses with thin slits in them. They look a lot like birdhouses but butterflies can slide their wings into the slits to hide as needed. They make a beautiful ornament in the garden. For an added challenge, try making one yourself.

4. Provide butterfly food and water

Just like all creatures, butterflies need food and water. Place a shallow bowl or place a birdbath in your butterfly garden. Be sure to change the water often so the butterflies have fresh water to drink.

Fun food options to place in the garden include ripened fruit like bananas, pears, and peaches. The sweetness of the ripe fruit will draw butterflies from all over! Remove the fruit after a day or two and replace it with new fruit as other critters will get to it and it will spoil.

Butterfly Bush with Butterfly Feeding

5. Add some colorful blooms

Butterflies love a fun variety of colorful plants! This includes plants like cultivated Butterfly Bush that may not be native to your local area. Here are a few plants that attract Monarch butterflies and others as well.

  • Miss Molly Butterfly Bush – The nectar of these sweet flowers attracts butterflies from all over.
  • Pink Crush New England Aster – This brightly colored purple bush is a sight to see covered in butterflies!
  • Cinderella Milkweed – butterflies love the beautiful pink blossoms of these plants.

Varieties of flowers such as these, as well as many others, will bring Monarch butterflies as well as other species to your garden.

6. Add cool hues

In the warmer months of summer, it’s nice to have some cooler color tones in your butterfly garden. Some great plants with gorgeous soft colors are:

  • Shasta Daisy – This muted flower is a beauty to see covered in butterflies.
  • Garden Phlox – Butterflies love these purple flowers. They are brighter but easy on the eyes.
  • Crystal Blue Salvia – The longer flowers of these plants add a fun dimension to your butterfly garden.

These are just some of the cool hues you can add to your garden. There are plenty more flower varieties with calming effects like these.

7. Sunbathing spaces

Butterflies love to sunbathe! Place large flat rocks or stones in the garden for butterflies to land on and enjoy the sunlight between meals. Pavers and bricks make great sunbathing spots nestled among the bushes and flowers!

Even if you don’t add flat spaces for the butterflies, they will find spots on top of the flowers and bushes. No need to worry!

8. Use a semi-circle layout

Arrange your butterfly garden in a semi-circle pattern for a fun look. Plant all sorts of tall flowers and flowering bushes that attract butterflies at the back and watch them make it their home. I like to plant smaller perennials in the front of the garden. This way, we can see butterflies anywhere we stand.

9. Plant in clumps

Since butterflies are near-sighted, it’s important to plant your flowers and bushes in clumps based on type. This will help the butterflies see the flowers and plants easier and will allow them to utilize the nectar better. While they can find nectar among freely growing wildflowers, it’s more difficult than in a structured garden meant solely for nurturing butterflies.

10. Provide seating for guests

To make your butterfly garden viewing area even more special, add a bench among the shrubbery. A nice stone bench in the center or off to one side is a great place for people to sit and enjoy nature’s beauty. Not to mention, the butterflies will use it to sunbathe when you aren’t around!

Peacock Butterfly on Thistle Flower

Enjoy your butterfly garden

Once you set up your beautiful garden, let the butterflies do the rest. While it might take time for butterflies to find your garden and begin utilizing it over the years, you can also get starter kits with caterpillars in the hopes they will send back some future generations.


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