Plant a Butterfly Garden for Spring


Trends come and go. Some are good, a few are silly...and then a handful are just like this one we're seeing "blooming" for 2016: beautiful, easy and amazing butterfly gardens!

Here at Cate's Garden we've been avid butterfly gardeners for years. It started when Chris's little ones were ga-ga over the idea of "raising baby butterflies" from cocoons. Their classes had each done so and the results were so much fun for all the kids. What we didn't expect was that it would be fun for us grownups, too!

Since then each of our families has been "raising baby butterflies" and then releasing the gorgeous creatures into gardens planted specifically for them. It's so easy to create a butterfly-friendly garden! You can get as fancy as you'd like, including creating cute garden markers and a mini gate, or just start with these basics to get the ball rolling:

1. Start plants from seed or purchase seedlings (1-2" high depending upon the plant). Some plant varieties may surprise you as far as the exact color; others will be more specific, so ask. A few great butterfly attractors are:


Ageratum (Ageratum houstonianum)

Cosmos (Cosmos Bipinnatus)

Heliotrope (Heliotropium arborescens)

Lantana (Lantana camara)

Marigold (Tagetes patula)

Pentas (Pentas lanceolata

Petunia (Petunia x hybrida)

Scabiosa, pincushion flower (Scabiosa atropurpurea)

Statice (Limonium sinuatum)

Verbena (Verbena x hortensis, V. x hybrida)

Zinnia (Zinnia elegans)


Allium (Allium spp.) - bulb

Chives (Allium schoenoprasum)

Forget-me-not (Myosotis sylvatica) - biennial, perennial

Bee balm (Monarda didyma)

Black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia spp.

Butterfly weed (Asclepias tuberosa)

Catmint (Nepeta mussinii)

Coreopsis (Coreopsis spp.)

Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia)

Liatris, blazing-star,  (Liatris spp.)

Lily (spp.)

Mint (Mentha spp.)

Phlox (Phlox spp.)

Purple coneflower (Echinacea purpurea)

Sunflower (Helianthus spp.)

Yarrow (Achillea filipendulia)


Butterflies are attracted to the colors and scents of the above blooms and will feed on the nectar. Because these flowers are a source of food, your butterflies have a better chance of staying close by.

Increase these odds by doing the following:

2. Keep a shallow dish of water available so butterflies can drink.

3. Place fruit on a shallow dish. Butterflies will flock to feed. To minimize the risk of pest infestation (such as rodents), hang the dish from a string at least six feet off the ground.

4. Choose flowers that will bloom at varying times: spring, summer and fall. This way, you'll have food available for your butterflies for an extended period of time.

5. Make sure there's plenty of foliage around for new caterpillars, so generations can be created to live in your butterfly garden.

6. Your garden should have plenty of sun exposure. Butterflies love sun!





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