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)|