Creating a Butterfly Garden

It doesn't take much to create a butterfly garden. Heck, all it takes is one plant in a nice pot!

First, glean information. Start off with which butterflies live and visit your neighborhood. With that, you can make educated decisions on what plants will attract them. Because a plant is loaded with pretty flowers doesn't necessarily mean it will attract butterflies. What may attract butterflies in one region may be completely ignored in others. Also, different butterfly species are attracted to specific plant species or plant families.

Butterfly Information Sources:

Butterflies and Moths of North America

Butterflies of Orange County, California

Art Shapiro's Butterfly Site

Butterflies of America (for consummate geeks) Butterflies 

Butterfly Garden Information Sources:

6 Steps to Creating Your Butterfly Garden

The Butterfly Site: Gardening

North American Butterfly Association: Basics of Butterfly Gardening

Now that you have some basic information on local butterflies and coupled with a bit of butterfly garden know-how tucked under your belt, start by slowly introducing a few plants at a time. Place a few annuals here and there in open spots of your garden. Add a couple of nice pots planted with some pretty butterfly magnets. Make it a point to add or replace a flowering shrub with one known to entice your neighborhood garden visitors.

There are a few things to remember when planning such a garden:
  • Know your local butterflies and what they feed on.
  • Plant sunny. Butterflies like sun.
  • Know the needs of your plants. Sunny? Shady? Drinks like a fish? Has the stamina of a desert camel?
  • Try to include both host plants and nectar plants.
  • If you feel rambunctious, add a warming stone or two.
  • Feeling frisky? Set up a butterfly feeding station!
  • Come on, get mischievous: offer some water in a shallow pan filled with mud or pebbles.

Here's a few videos worth watching that will shed more light on how you too, can create one in your own yard:

Great video on butterfly plants for SoCal gardens.

Make a container garden.