If you’re a nature lover and enjoy butterflies visiting your yard, there are many flowers you can plant that will provide them with the nourishment they need along with creating a whimsical atmosphere in your front and back yards. Butterflies go through a unique series of life cycles: egg, larvae, pupa, and adult. Many butterflies have one life cycle per year, and most adults only live for two to three weeks. In their adult life, they must find a mate, reproduce, seek out food and shelter, and find nectar to fuel each of these activities.
Butterfly Garden Necessities
Butterflies are unique creatures, and their needs vary by species. There are many details to consider when planning your landscaping to make it appealing for butterflies and create an environment that they will thrive off:
- Plant type and color: Adult butterflies are commonly attracted to orange, pink, red, yellow, and purple blossoms. The blooms of the plants you select should also be flat-topped or clustered and have short flower tubes.
- Continuous bloom: Since different species of butterflies will reach their adult cycle at different times, it’s essential to plan accordingly. Attempt to plant in a pattern, so when one plant stops blooming, another one begins, thus providing adult butterflies with nectar at all times.
- Good nectar sources located in sunny spots: Butterflies love sunshine, and the adults typically only feed in the sun. It’s encouraged to plant your butterfly nectar sources in areas where they will receive full sun from mid-morning to mid-afternoon.
- No insecticides: Many types of insecticides kill insects and harm butterflies. It’s vital to limit the use of these products and ban them entirely from any garden use to ensure adequate food sources for butterflies and other harmless garden inhabitants.
- Resting and Puddling: Butterflies bask in the sun for orientation and to warm their wings before flight. Additionally, they also tend to congregate on wet sand and mud to drink water and get necessary minerals from puddles. To create the optimal environment for butterflies in your property, incorporate flat stones for basking and a shallow pan of moist, coarse sand for puddling.
There are a variety of wildflowers, annuals, and perennials that you can incorporate into your landscaping to create the perfect butterfly sanctuary. Along with butterflies, the following perennials will attract many other wildlife species as well.
#1: Orange Milkweed (Asclepias tuberosa)
Orange Milkweed is also known as “Butterfly Weed” and is a perennial that blooms from May to September each year. The blooms appear as large, flat-topped clusters of bright orange or yellow flowers. It will likely bring butterflies and hummingbirds to your garden as it is a very high nectar source.
#2: Purple Coneflower (Echinacea purpurea)
The Purple Coneflower is a popular perennial that can stand anywhere from 2 to 5 feet tall at its mature age. Typically blooming from April to September, the blooms appear with a domed, purplish-brown, spiny center with droopy pink or lavender petals. This beautiful flower will attract butterflies, hummingbirds, and bees.
#3: Joe Pye Weed (Eutrochium purpureum)
Joe Pye Weed is a tall plant that can reach up to 6 feet tall in an optimal climate. It’s unique in the idea that the color of the stem matches very closely with that of its dusty rose-colored blooms. Joe Pye Weed blooms from July to August and attracts an incredible amount of butterflies and other wildlife. It spreads quickly so is best planted in a contained area on your property, and in full to almost-full sun.
#4: Bee Balm (Monarda)
Bee Balm is a popular perennial native to North America and is also called “Wild Bergamot.” Typically blooming during the summer months, bee balm can be identified by its fragrant, whimsical blossoms ranging in color such as pink, purple, red, or white. This beautiful flower will attract hummingbirds, butterflies, and bees in the warmer months, and various species of birds will be attracted to the seed heads in the fall and winter.
#5: Goldenrod (Solidago)
While many plants have medicinal benefits, goldenrod is a perennial that is well-known for its healing properties as well as a plant that butterflies love. Goldenrod will add a beautiful splash of yellow to your landscaping with it’s widely spaced, yellow, thickly clustered flowers. All aerial parts of this plant can be consumed whether for a salad garnish, cooked like spinach, or frozen for use during the colder months.
#6: Blanket Flower (Gaillardia)
The Blanket Flower is a short-lived perennial that is extremely drought tolerant and known for its colorful, daisy-like appearance. Usually blooming from early summer to fall, the blanket flower is extremely popular for hummingbirds and butterflies. They are easy to care for, and if incorporated into your landscaping, the faded flowers should be removed throughout the blooming season to encourage new blooms year after year.
#7: Black-Eyed Susan (Rudbeckia hirta)
The Black-Eyed Susan is one of the most popular wildflowers grown in North America, and you’ve likely seen it on neighboring properties, open fields, and many more locations. These flowers are members of the sunflower family and typically bloom from June to October. Butterflies, bees, and many other insects are attracted to its high nectar blossoms. The black-eyed susan quickly spreads its seeds with help from the wind and pollinators. Enjoying part to full sun, this flower can appear in a daisy-like form as orange, red, or yellow.
Get Started on Your Butterfly Garden
There are many different species of wildflowers, annuals, and perennials that attract butterflies and other wildlife. Butterflies are beautiful creatures that feed off nectar from a variety of plants and flowers. Planting different types of flowers that encourage butterflies to visit your yard not only feeds butterflies but also encourages the growth and spread of the beautiful flowers that support a butterfly’s life. If you’re looking for ways to attract more butterflies to your property, incorporating the perennials mentioned above into your landscaping will create an optimal environment for butterflies and many other wildlife species. Once they’ve found your garden oasis, they’ll continue to return time and time again.