Planting For Visitors A Butterfly Garden Tour

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Last week I gave you a tour of the garden on the side of our garage which I’ve dubbed A Garden of Memories Brimming with Irises and Clematis. Today I’m going to give you a tour of our butterfly garden and give some tips to attract these beautiful visitors to your gardens. We are almost halfway through the 10 part blog series What’s in My Garden and I’m so happy to hear you are loving this post series. Don’t forget to check out other posts in the Outdoor Spaces category. Now let’s get started because by far, this garden is my most favorite!

The first garden we setup when we purchased our house was a butterfly garden. I’ve always loved butterflies and the space we used was perfectly sized to the plants that I wanted to landscape with. I’d say we’ve had this space dedicated to attracting butterflies since 2002. Over the years we have changed up some of the plants or have had to pull some because they didn’t work out. But it has, and always will be a butterfly garden space.

Shown above is the glorious ‘yellow swallowtail’. They are as big as a monarch and the yellow of their wings is the most vibrant, yet pale yellow. The plant I most find butterflies frequenting is our dwarf pink butterfly bush.

There are a lot of elements to this garden plan and post. So let’s start with a current list of what is in this butterfly garden.

Plants In Butterfly Garden

  • Butterfly bush
  • Clematis
  • Bleeding Heart
  • Lavender
  • Purple Coneflower
  • Daisies (these were given to us)
  • Low growing pine bush
  • Sedum (looks like ‘Autumn Joy’ variety; this too was given to us)

Some years after we first put in our butterfly garden we had to have our front pathway redone. During this renovation we lost a lot of our original plants. I’ve also noticed we don’t have as many garden visitors either. Some of that could be climate change, species reduction or other factors.

Regardless, it is our plan to restore the butterfly garden to its’ original state once we have our pathway redone (again) and we raise our garden bed up to meet the edge of the driveway. This last project is going to require that we pull out everything in the butterfly garden to add in more soil. This is a project I’m not looking forward to. But it must be done.

“The #1 tip for attracting butterflies to your garden is to plant a butterfly bush.”

Behind the Designs

If you were thinking about starting a butterfly garden or want to add some butterfly attracting plants to your existing garden, the following are all the plants we had in our original landscape. Each one offers something delicious to the weary migrating butterfly. The best part is these plants aren’t just for butterflies. I’ve seen hummingbird hawkmoths, hummingbirds and all sorts of bees feeding on the nectar from this one plant/bush.

List of Butterfly Attracting Plants

  • Butterfly weed
  • Purple Dome Aster
  • Purple Butterfly Bush
  • Purple Coneflower
  • Russian Sage
  • Petite Bee Balm
  • Black-Eyed Susan or Sunray Coreopsis
  • Matrona Stonecrop
  • Butterfly Blue Pincushion Flower
  • Elijah Blue Fescoe
  • Sweet Alyssum
  • Parsley
  • Dwarf Zinnia

The first year after we planted this high attracting butterfly garden plan, we captured (in pictures) at least seven different varieties of butterflies that visited our garden. I even discovered what a hummingbird hawkmoth was that year. It’s called a “hummingbird” hawkmoth not because it is a hummingbird species but because it feeds like a hummingbird does. It’s quite fascinating to watch them! I’ve named him Henry.

Although a butterfly might randomly visit your garden, if you provide the habitat they need it will not only attract the butterflies but they will frequent the garden more often. If you do revamp your current garden or simply plant a few butterfly attracting plants, don’t be discouraged if you don’t see something the first year. Depending on when you plant, it may take a year before you start to see the results of your hard work.

Must Have’s in A Butterfly Habitat

  • Food -the plants you offer will work
  • Water -it can be a bird bath or even a bowl of water you change daily
  • Safety -varying heights of plants will offer them the safety they need; also providing rocks as resting places helps
  • Shelter -you might think of a butterfly house for shelter

Above we were visited by two monarch butterflies which was a real treat. Sadly, one of them had an injured wing but seemed to get along okay. I’ve noticed that monarchs are pretty laid back and will fly around you closely if you are standing still. As you can see the one monarch butterfly flew around me very closely and in front of my phone camera.

Here is a beautiful ‘painted lady’ butterfly on autumn joy sedum in our butterfly garden. I’ll admit when you first plant this particular variety of sedum it can look very boring. But once it flowers it’s a beautiful shade of pink and it’s made more striking because they are in large clusters, which also makes a great landing place for butterflies.

Here a ‘fritilliaires’ butterfly rests on purple coneflower in our butterfly garden. I took this picture at dusk just as the last of the days’ sun peek through the leaves of the plant. I’d be lying if I said this was my favorite shot of a butterfly on one of our plants, but it certainly ranks up there for me. The brownish-orange of the butterflies wings contrasts perfectly against the purple coneflower petals.

To add a varying heights to our butterfly garden, we’ve planted a variety of blossoming plants, like this salvia. I always call it lavender but it’s a variety of spiked salvia -not too sure which variety. But, I think it’s a ‘veronica blue’? There is a lot of purples, light blues and pinks in our gardens. It’s very much a spring-summer flower show against our yellow house. We do have some spirea in our yard which offers autumn interest. But, it is without a doubt that our house really shines from spring through summer.

Just as you might provide a resting place for butterflies you should also consider one for yourself or other garden visitors. This garden bench was given to us by a neighbor and it was the perfect little bench to place in our butterfly garden. Sitting on the bench is a decorative frog statue we found at our local garden store.

Here is a perfect shasta daisy that I’ve picked for you (virtually, of course). I hope you’ve enjoyed this little tour around our butterfly garden and hope the tips I’ve provided encourage you to welcome butterflies to your garden. Don’t forget to sign up for the newsletter because as a member you get exclusive access to downloads (not available to non-members). Right now, you’ll find some wallpapers for your desktop that are pictures from my own garden.

Need more inspiration? Check out my presentation on Butterfly Garden Visitors. Hope you enjoy it!

Now that we finished talking about planting for visitors a butterfly garden tour come back next week when I’ll share with you refreshing the mailbox garden.

If you are inspired to create a butterfly garden of your own don’t forget to share by tagging me on Instagram and using #btdinspired, I’d love to see your work (and I just might repost your photo)!

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