Of the many creatures at home in the garden, few can match the grace and beauty of butterflies. They are important pollinators and a delight to see in any garden.
A garden that includes plants for the entire life cycle will attract a variety of native butterflies. Butterfly larvae need host plants for food and as a place to pupate, while adult butterflies require nectar sources for food and plants for egg-laying.
Tips for Planting a Butterfly Garden
- Place your garden in a sunny place and provide rocks for butterflies to bask in the sun. Butterflies are sun-lovers and cannot fly until the sun's warmth heats their bodies.
- Group plants together to create a mass of color.
- Plant shrubs and trees nearby to offer a hiding place from predators and to shelter butterflies from the wind.
- Provide moisture. Butterflies extract water and minerals from damp soil.
- Avoid pesticides. They kill butterflies and their caterpillars.
To attract a diversity of butterflies and other pollinators in your garden, select a variety of plants with different floral colors, shapes, sizes and bloom times. The following plants are native to the Mid-Atlantic region and are listed based on their benefit for the different butterfly stages.
|Caterpillar Host Plants||Plants for Nectar Sources|
|* Salix caroliniana (willow)||* Symphyotrichum spp., Eurybia spp., etc. (aster species)|
|* Asimina triloba (pawpaw)||* Coreopsis verticillata (whorled tickseed)|
|* Betula nigra (river birch)||* Echinacea spp. (coneflower)|
|* Carpinus caroliniana (American hornbeam)||* Eupatorium fistulosum (Joe Pye weed)|
|* Cercis canadensis (Eastern redbud)||* Gaillardia x grandiflora (blanket flower)|
|* Cornus florida (dogwood)||* Gaura lindheimeri (Lindheimer's beeblossom)|
|* Juniperus virginiana (Eastern red cedar)||* Heliopsis helianthoides (smooth oxeye)|
|* Ptelea trifoliata (common hop-tree)||* Hibiscus moscheutos (rose-mallow)|
|* Sassafras albidum (sassafras)||* Nepeta x faassenii (giant catmint)|
|* Quercus velutina (black oak)||* Oenothera spp. (evening primrose)|
|Shrubs||* Phlox carolina (thickleaf phlox)|
|* Lindera benzoin (spicebush)||* Phlox paniculata (fall phlox)|
|* Rhus spp. (sumac)||* Parthenium integrifolium (American feverfew)|
|* Viburnum dentatum||* Rudbeckia fulgida (Black-eyed Susan)|
|Herbaceous Perennials||* Sedum spp.|
|* Antennaria plantaginifolia (pussy toes)|
|* Symphyotrichum spp., Eurybia spp., etc. (aster species)|
|* Asclepias incarnata (swamp milkweed)|
|* Chelone glabra, C. lyonii (turtlehead)|
|* Penstemon digitalis (talus slope penstemon)|
|* Panicum virgatum (switchgrass)|