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Attracting Butterflies to Your Yard

Butterflies are attracted to areas of your gardens where they can gather food for their offspring. The caterpillar will eat from the plants while the adult butterflies will sip on the nectar of the flowers. As your plants, shrubs, and flowers mature, the amount of butterflies to your gardens will also increase. The plants and flowers that you put in your garden this year will attract only a few, but in the years to come the natural instinct of the butterfly will lead them to your garden.

Plants Butterflies Like

Buttrflies-in-my-gardenTo attract butterflies to your garden, you need the flowers that produce the nectar that butterflies drink. Nectar is the butterfly’s main source of food.

Adult butterflies searching for nectar are attracted to:

  • red, yellow, orange, pink, or purple blossoms
  • flat-topped or clustered flowers
  • short flower tubes

Short flower tubes allow the butterflies to reach the nectar with their proboscis. Nectar-producing plants should be grown in open, sunny areas, as adults of most species rarely feed on plants in the shade. Patches of plants that flower at the same time are more attractive to butterflies than a single plant with a few flowers. Plant your flowers in sunny places and provide some rocks or stone walls where they can “bask” in the morning to warm up.

Provide a few sheltered areas, like shrubbery or brush piles to protect them from wind and rain, and provide caterpillars a nice place to pupate. You should plant more than one source of nectar. Planting a variety of nectar sources will encourage more butterflies to visit the garden.

The Butterfly Bush

Bright colors seem to attract more butterflies, but more importantly, large swaths of color will make it easier for them to find your garden. You may want to include the aptly-named butterfly bush.  This large shrub (up to 10 feet) is a magnet to butterflies.  In mild-winter areas, its delicate silver foliage adds a pleasing contrast to evergreens.You should cut back to about 18″ in late winter because it will grow quickly!  In a small garden stick to one of the dwarf varieties which reach about five feet (Nanho blue, petite indigo and others).

Other Flowers That Attract Butterflies

Here is a list of other plants to consider adding to your garden that will also attract butterflies.

  • Asters
  • Bee balm
  • Butterfly plant
  • Cosmos
  • Gaillardia
  • Lilac
  • Marigold
  • Ornamental thistles
  • Rabbit brush
  • Sunflower
  • Sweet pea
  • Verbena
  • Zinnias

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