How to Create a Butterfly Garden

When I first designed the front entry garden, I researched butterfly and hummingbird attracting plants to entice them to my yard.

I dreamed of having a garden that was flooded by these beautiful creatures.

Thankfully, there is a lot of plant overlap that attracts both.

Once I honed my plant list, I considered deer browsing and what plants I should avoid.

While I don’t mind adding plants that have a low deer resistance rating because I spray them, I prefer to focus more on plants that they tend to avoid.

To learn more about creating a deer-resistant garden, check out my blog post, Deer-Proofing Your Garden.

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Butterfly Garden

Attracting Butterflies

If you want to start a butterfly garden, it is important to plan ahead.

Do your research, site and prepare the bed, and include plants that both caterpillars and butterflies enjoy.

To achieve success, be sure to feed butterflies with adult nectar plants and developing caterpillars with host plants.

Butterfly Garden
Butterflies love Bee Balm!


It is important to plant nectar plants near fences, shrubs, trees and vines to provide shelter from winds and rain.

When designing a butterfly border, there are few things to keep in mind:

  • Plant in a sunny location.
  • Research and select plants that will attract butterflies common to your area.
  • Create a succession of blooms so butterflies visit and want to hang around.
Butterfly Garden
This Monarch LOVES the Echinacea in my garden!

Host Plants

Since butterflies lay eggs on certain plants that feed their caterpillars, butterflies prefer visiting gardens where host plants are nearby.

Examples of host plants include Milkweed, Viburnum, Wisteria, Flowering Dogwoods, Snapdagons, Foxgloves and many others.

For more information about host plants, see Creating Inviting Habitats by the Virginia Cooperative Extension.

Tip: leave plants that are dying back or defoliated in the borders because they may contain eggs or developing butterflies on them.

I allow my plants to die back naturally and avoid cutting plants back until early spring where possible.

It doesn’t always look great, but it helps keep the butterfly lifecycle going!

Butterfly Garden

Nectar Plants

It is important to select plants with varying bloom times so butterflies are fed from spring through fall.

Butterflies’ attention is drawn to clusters of like colors so it is important to plant enough of the same flowers together.


  • Butterflies favor native plants.
  • Where possible, avoid pesticides in your gardens because they can wipe out butterflies and other pollinators.
  • Butterflies are drawn to brightly colored purples, blues, yellows, whites, and pinks.
  • Focus on plants with multiple florets as well as composite flowers, because they can get more nectar at one time.
  • Avoid double flowering varieties because they carry less nectar.
Butterfly Garden

Plants that Attract Butterflies

In my gardens, butterflies love to sample Bee Balm, Echinacea, Butterfly Bush, Butterfly Weed, Liatris (when I had it), Coreopsis, Black-Eyed Susan, Tall Phlox, Sedum Autumn Joy and Joe Pye Weed.

If you would like more information regarding pollinators and how to attract them to your garden, see Creating Inviting Habitats by the Virginia Cooperative Extension.

Butterfly Garden

Front Garden

The pollinators are thoroughly enjoying the front garden.

I’ve seen several monarchs and swallowtails, hummingbirds, dragonflies, and tons of bumble bees.

They all seem so peaceful and content zipping from flower to flower to grab some nectar.

To see a video tour of the front garden this week, check out my IGTV video here.

Tall Phlox in Butterfly Garden
Blooms shown are Echinacea, Tall Phlox and Knock Out Roses.
Butterfly Garden
This border includes, Coral Bells, Salvia, Bee Balm, Catmint, Echinacea, Dahlias, Marigolds, Euphorbia and Tall Phlox.
Butterfly Garden
White Balloon Flower is prominent in this border and adds a casual feel as it flops over the walkway.
Butterfly Garden
I love the color and texture of these perennials! Black Eyed Susan, Sedum, Coneflower, Rose Mallow, Echinacea, Russian Sage, Pansies, Euphorbia and Marigolds.
Globe Thistle and Bee Balm
Globe Thistle and Bee Balm
Butterfly Garden
Lamb’s Ear, Echinacea varieties, Verbena, Catmint, Marigolds, Euphorbia, Sedum, and Russian Sage.

Well Garden

Similar to the front border, the well garden has been laden with pollinators.

Tall Phlox, Orange Daylillies, Coreopsis, Callicarpa, and the annuals are all blooming.

The Zebra Grass is full-grown and adds some much-needed movement to the border while my favorite, Smoketree, continues to stun with its brilliant reddish-purple foliage.

To see a video tour of the well garden this week, check out my first IGTV video here.

Callicarpa, Coreopsis, Tall Phlox, Peonies, Petunias, Marigolds, Euphorbia, Smoketree and Zebra Grass.
Butterfly Garden
I love the movement and fluidity that Zebra Grass adds to this border. Moonbeam Coreopsis is still blooming strong together with Petunias and Tall Phlox.
Zebra Grass
Zebra Grass
I love the beautiful branches of Callicarpa. This deciduous shrub is a must have because it has year round interest with summer blooms, the leaves turn an autumnal color in fall and then produce bright purple berries in late fall/early winter. If it is hardy to your zone, give it a try!
Butterfly Weed
These are Milk Weed seed heads. They will eventually dry out, break open and release cottonous seeds that reseed in the garden. This is the reason I have it growing in different gardens throughout my front yard.
Perennial Garden
Bodie likes to follow me around while I stroll gardens. Every now and then, he just sits there and enjoys the view for a while.

Mailbox Garden

The mailbox garden is in full bloom.

I love the colors the annuals add to this tiny garden.

Truth be told, I’m a little disappointed that the Clematis cover the mailbox like it normally does.

But, it was a a struggle to train this year and I’m thankful it is alive and thriving.

Mailbox Perennial Garden
Jackmanii Clematis, Petunias, Euphorbia, Margolds and Red Daylillies.

Side Gardens

Since weeding them a few weeks ago, the side gardens are still looking great!

Speaking of the side gardens, I love the ferns my friend gave me several years ago.

Every time I go out there, I think of her!

That’s one of the things I love about gardening.

Every plant that has been shared with me reminds me of the person that shared it.

It’s as if a piece of them is here in the borders and I just love that!

Woodland Garden
The woodland garden on the western side of the house is looking very lush with Ferns, Cranesbill, Joe Pye Weed, Tall Phlox, Oak Leaf Hydrangea, Rhododendron, Astilbes, and Bleeding Hearts that are yellowing and dying back.
Side Garden
This garden is located on the other side of the house near the entrance to the backyard. It is directly behind the fire pit area and contains Forsythia, Hostas and Peonies.

Backyard Gardens

The backyard gardens are doing well.

I need to finish weeding the back border but it has been too hot to get out there. We’ve had a serious heatwave here where the heat index was about 108!

The resident groundhog is still making his mark in the gardens.

I caught him trying to climb up my deck to snack on my containers while I was sitting there!

When I took my camera out to take a pic of him, he ran back to his entrance under my shed.

I’m not thrilled with the amount of damage he’s causing to the yard and wish he would find food elsewhere.

Backyard Perennial Garden
This garden needs to be weeded well. The Hostas are fully blooming. Plants include: Hostas, Bee Balm, Dark Horse Wiegela, Joe Pye Weed and Plume Poppies.
Joe Pye Weed
Joe Pye Weed is starting to bloom. I love this plant!
Hammock in the Backyard Garden
I love this new Boho Hammock from Target. Perfect spot to take a nap!
Rose of Sharon
Rose of Sharon
Backyard Garden
View of the berry gardens and play area from the fire pit.
Backyard Perennial and Flowering Shrub Garden
The Fire Pit garden sits outside the vegetable beds and contain Sedum Autumn Joy, Catmint, Bearded Iris, Joe Pye Weed, Ornamental Grass, Hostas, Solomon Seal, Mugo Pine, Knockout Rose, Variegated Dogwood and Double Flowering Impatiens.
My Hostas are in full bloom! I just sprayed all of my Hostas again to insure the deer leave them alone!
Backyard Gardens
After taking this picture, I noticed the Reblooming Lilac is starting to get buds on them again. Yippee! More to come next week!

Final Thoughts

Since growing my butterfly garden, it has been a real thrill to see them stop by and enjoy the flowers. I love walking out the front door and watching nature do its thing!

If you missed a few tours or want to see how the garden has progressed, you can see them here:

Do you have a butterfly garden or love to garden too?

I would love to hear about it and see some photos of your gardens, no matter how big or small!

Your comments mean so much to me and make my day.

Butterfly Garden

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I hope you enjoyed this week’s garden tour and appreciate you joining me! Contact me here if you have any questions.

Thank you for following along.

Happy planting – enjoy your day! xo

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