How to Attract Butterflies to Your Garden

Butterflies are good for more than just beauty, they are one of the best pollinators for your garden. Check out how to attract butterflies to your garden.

Butterflies are good for more than just beauty, they are one of the best pollinators for your garden. Check out how to attract butterflies to your garden.

Butterflies need a place to lay their eggs, so you need host plants for their babies to survive. Monarch caterpillars eat milkweed, swallowtail caterpillars eat parsley, dill, and fennel. To attract the type of butterfly you want to see in your garden, plant the host plants for their offspring.

How to Attract Butterflies to Your Garden

When you plant your host plant, make sure you realize the caterpillars are heavy feeders and they will eat plenty, sometimes decimating the entire crop. If you want to attract swallowtails and you want to eat fennel, plant A LOT! 

monarch butterfly sipping nectar from pink zinnia in the garden

Adult butterflies also need food. They eat nectar. As they go from flower to flower eating nectar, they transfer pollen from one flower to the next pollinating your plants much as bees do. They are a great helper in garden productivity. And man, are they ever gorgeous! So, attract butterflies to your garden for more fun and learning. 

Plants that attract butterflies

Keep in mind you need a continuous source of nectar plants for your friends to enjoy, so plant native plants that bloom in succession. Just because you have flowers in spring, doesn’t mean the butterflies don’t need food for the rest of the growing season.

Some great nectar plants for a wide variety of butterflies include marigolds, nasturtiums, verbena, butterfly weed, and zinnias. 

Perennials that attract butterflies

Perennials that attract butterflies are a good idea because they will bloom on their own yearly and you won’t have to replant. Plants that butterflies love include phlox, coneflower, lantana, blue star, black-eyed Susans, yarrow, aster, coreopsis, and lavender. 

Bushes that attract butterflies

Bushes that attract butterflies are cool because they usually bloom for a long period of time. Our butterfly bushes keep blooming from late spring to late fall. Rose of Sharon, firebush, summersweet, lilac, spicebush, bluebeard and meadowsweet are great butterfly attracting bushes for your butterfly garden as well. 
caterpillar munching on fennel in the garden 



Watching butterflies is one of our favorite pastimes at Little Sprouts. One of my favorite butterfly stories is one day in the summer we were playing outside and I was talking to the kids. 

I raised my arm up to my side and was telling something very animated with my arm involved in the story when a butterfly flew right up and landed on my finger like I had cued it to do so. 

Butterfly in garden

One child was so amazed about that, for weeks every time we played outside he would stand there with his arm out waiting for it to happen again.  He begged me for years to tell him how I did that.  It was just a beautiful moment with nature through no fault of mine.  But a great memory for all of us. Another great reason to attract butterflies to your garden.

We have seen butterflies emerging from a chrysalis as brand new creatures, and have even spotted a butterfly laying her eggs. We saw her touching down and went over after she left and found the eggs. Also, we have watched eggs hatch, and watched chrysalises form. It’s an amazing life cycle. Planting a butterfly garden has a lot of benefits besides just for your flowers.

My butterfly garden

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attracting butterflies to your garden, butterfly landing on a child's back in the butterfly garden 



 attract butterflies to your garden with butterfly bush, monarch sipping nectar from flowers on butterfly bush

How to attract butterflies

You and your kids can learn so much by watching the lifecycle, metamorphosis, and feeding habits of butterflies.  It’s a beautiful creature God created that is useful and glorious! In addition, butterflies are great pollinators for your flower and food gardens so they make your plants grow better.

You can attract butterflies with fruit or sugar water as well. Just put out a plate with some overripe fruit, or some simple syrup and butterflies will flock to your garden to enjoy it. Simple syrup is half water, half sugar, heated on the stove while stirring until dissolved. Remember to let it cool before feeding it to butterflies. You can make it with 1/4 sugar and 3/4 water and feed it to your hummingbirds and butterflies in your garden. Just another way to attract butterflies to your garden.


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Butterflies are good for more than just beauty, they are one of the best pollinators for your garden. Check out how to attract butterflies to your garden.

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8 comments

  1. Great tips! I love watching butterflies with my kids 🙂

  2. Beautiful! We get quite a few butterflies, but I haven’t noticed the caterpillars as much. The butterfly site is a great resource.

  3. This post just has me craving the warm beautiful spring!

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