Botanica Atlanta | Landscape Design, Construction & Maintenance


Creating a Butterfly Garden


Every gardener enjoys seeing wildlife in the garden, particularly butterflies and humming birds. Butterflies particularly add a romantic bonus to a colorful garden.

The key to a successful butterfly garden is to understand a little about the butterfly itself. They are cold blooded and thus need a sunny place to warm them. They cannot drink from deep pools of water like a birdbath but do need moisture.

The ideal place for a butterfly garden is in a full sun area where you can grow a variety of nectar producing flowers. Try to find species that bloom at different times of the day as well as will give a continuity of bloom for the whole summer. This means that you will probably need a variety of shrubs, perennials and annuals.

For shrubs, early blooming redbuds will attract the earliest of butterflies while hibiscus. Spirea, Summersweet and, of course, butterfly bushes will attract those species that arrive in summer. Note that very early blooming shrubs such as camellias will not attract butterflies because the average air temperature when they bloom is too low for butterfly survival.

A variety of perennials that are grouped in large clumps will attract a good variety of species to your garden. Butterflies like daisy type flowers where they can access the nectar easily such as asters, coneflowers and Shasta daisies. Most butterflies will also like colorful perennials such as daylilies and golden rods, as well as many herbs such as lavender, dill and fennel. Natives can also be ideal in your butterfly garden. Look for native monardas and milkweeds to round out your selections.

Some butterflies will only lay eggs on specific plants and so having some host plants will encourage monarch and swallowtail species. Monarch butterflies like milkweed species whereas the swallowtails prefer the dill, fennel parsley plants.

It is important to remember that destructive caterpillars are the larval stage of the butterfly, so do not use pesticides and insecticides on plants with these creature on them. Rather, plant a bunch of plants specifically as nursery stock for the caterpillar to munch on.

A certain amount of moisture is available to butterflies from the plants when the feed but providing a small pot with moisture will attract a large variety of them to your garden. Unfortunately a butterfly is unable to drink from deep pots such as a birdbath, so fill the birdbath with coarse gravel or sand, and add water to the dish every day so that the butterflies can land and drink safely.

By providing a colorful and varied selection of blooming plants, you will encourage a delightful array of butterflies to your garden. A little bit of research will help you identify these visitors, just as you do with birds. Finding native butterflies and what you need specifically to attract them will give you an added enjoyment in your garden. Look for first arrival of monarch butterflies to your garden, and see how it changes from year to year.



"Faith sees a beautiful blossom in a bulb, a lovely garden in a seed, and a giant oak in an acorn."  William Arthur Ward

Botanica Atlanta Landscape Design     2870 Peachtree Road NE #231, Atlanta GA 30305      404.641.3960