Planting A Butterfly Garden: Ultimate Green Thumb Guide

Planting a butterfly garden can be a rewarding and fun way to bring life into your yard.  You can start your own butterfly garden even if you only have enough space for a couple planters.  You can also plant an epic butterfly haven that will attract all sorts of different pollinators from near and far.  We’ve put together the ultimate guide to growing a butterfly garden for you.

What Exactly Is A Butterfly Garden?

A butterfly garden is a garden filled with plants that attract butterflies.  Since butterflies love the sun, using full-sun plants in your butterfly garden will keep them happy.  Plants used in butterfly gardens usually produce a lot of nectar.  And since nectar-producing flowers are usually very beautiful, you’ll add elegance and color to your yard while simultaneously attracting fluttering beauties!

Butterfly gardens here in Southern California range in size from just a few pots to large elaborately planned landscape designs.  If you’d like to check out our Free Landscape Design Service* that we offer at our Lake Forest location, please click here and set up an appointment with one of our professionals to plan out a larger butterfly garden.

Picking The Right Spot

Choosing the perfect site to start impacts the results of your garden more than most would think.  You have to start with the butterfly in mind and choose the best location where the plants will satisfy their needs.  We have a few tips you can focus on when choosing your butterfly garden location:

Bright and Sunny Full-Sun Location – Like we mentioned earlier, butterflies love the sun!  They also love nectar-producing plants, which typically also love the sun!  You’ll want to choose an area that receives many hours of direct sunlight time during the day.

Pesticide Free Zone – Butterflies are like any other bug when it comes to pesticides, even if we do not consider them a pest.  Pesticides work well at removing the critters we do not want in the garden, but they can’t distinguish helpful pollinators from damaging pests.  You’ll need to create a pesticide-free zone in your garden or lay down a plastic dividing layer on the existing soil and add a few inches of fresh, non-polluted top-soil to keep the contaminants out.  You’ll also want to make sure that your watering run-off from your other plants in the garden isn’t directed towards your butterfly garden spot.  You want these plants isolated from all pesticides to ensure your butterflies are safe from exposure.

Wind Free Zone – Considering that some of our stores are located nearby the Santa Ana winds, it is worth noting that butterflies’ arch-nemesis is a strong wind.  Their airy wings don’t perform well under high pressurization, so it is better to place your garden in a spot that doesn’t have a lot of wind flow. You can create wind guards around your butterfly garden using shrubbery or fencing.

Butterfly Garden Plant Recommendations

Our stores make it really easy when choosing plants for your butterflies.  We have a great selection of nectar-producing full-sun plants at our stores.  Here are some plant recommendations for your butterfly garden.

Nectar-Producing Plants

  • Butterfly Bush
  • Butterfly Weed
  • Salvia
  • Lantana
  • Verbena
  • Aster
  • Lavender
  • Coreopsis
  • Red Pentas

Butterfly Host Plants

  • Milkweed
  • Lilac
  • Wisteria
  • Butterfly Bush
  • Snapdragon
  • Parsley
  • Dill
  • Cabbage
  • Carrots

Plant Arrangement and Professional Landscape Design

When laying out your butterfly garden, we recommend using our free professional landscape design service.  All that we ask for this service is a $500 purchase minimum (gift card is purchased before work is started) and our professional landscape designers can help you lay out your butterfly garden so that it is beautiful for years to come.  (This service is only offered at our Lake Forest store location)

Limited Space?

In combination with your butterfly garden, you can also use hanging nectar feeders for the butterflies to feed on.  We have a couple of hanging nectar feeders available for sale on our website for home delivery.  You can view these feeders here: nectar feeders  This can be a great way to provide enough nectar for our pollinators without devoting a ton of space in the yard.  Just be sure to remember that your feeders need to be cleaned out and replaced with fresh nectar every few days.  Nectar feeders can grow bacteria inside them especially in hot conditions which can be harmful or fatal to our butterfly friends.

Extra Resources

Butterflies Listed by State

Butterfly Nectar Plants

Simple Butterfly Garden Designs

That’s it!  Thanks for taking the time to read about our butterfly garden guide!