How to Attract Butterflies by Gardening

Attract more of these fluttering beauties to your backyard with a few simple steps.

GROW HOST PLANTS
We just can’t stress enough how important it is to have host plants in your garden plan. Native milkweed is important for monarchs, but don’t stop there. Check out our “Top 10 Host Plants.”

PLANT NATIVES
Natives are naturally better for birds, bees and butterflies. If you’re overwhelmed about where to start, look up a good native plant source in your area. Then ask them what they recommend.

ELIMINATE PESTICIDES
A caterpillar isn’t going to make it to the butterfly stage if you’re using pesticides in your yard. While it’s tempting to have weed-free, green lawns, it’s best to say no to all yard chemicals.

KEEP ’EM BLOOMING
Butterflies are active as early as February and as late as November in many areas. (Of course, if you live in a warmer climate, you get an even longer butterfly season.) Offer plants with early and late season bloom times, so butterfly visitors always have something to eat. You can’t go wrong with this logic. It works great for attracting beneficial bees, too!

WATCH AND LEARN
One of the best ways to discover which plants butterflies like is to watch them! Butterfly watching is best done in the heat of the day. You can learn a lot by observing the plants they visit most. If you don’t have a lot of butterfly activity in your own yard, go to a local park or botanical garden.

Have some fun attracting butterflies by making a butterfly-shaped garden! Find the plan here.

3 Secrets to Growing Milkweed

  1. More is better.
    Milkweed can be surprisingly hard to get started, so overseed to increase your chance of success.
  2. Try plants.
    If you can’t get milkweed seeds started, buy plants. Native gardening groups can point you in the right direction for suppliers.
  3. Look for variety.
    With more than 100 species of milkweed, what works for some might not work for others. Don’t be afraid to try a few.