Posted on 15 May 2008 by

Butterfly Gardens For Urban Gardeners

By Cindy Naas

Attracting beautiful butterflies to your garden all summer long is easy if you create a butterfly garden for these lovely creatures.

There are many plants which are perfect for smaller gardens and even some which can be grown in pots. Why not build a butterfly garden to enjoy this summer?

Elements Of The Butterfly Garden

A successful butterfly garden needs to include food for attracting mature butterflies as well as food for caterpillars. Butterflies also need a source of water. Combining these requirements can make a garden which is attractive to butterflies and people, too. Creating a beautiful small landscape with the plants below will repay the gardener with the sight of butterflies sitting on flowers and hovering in the air in the garden.

Food Plants

Butterflies eat flower nectar. The following are good sources of nectar and butterflies love these plants. Items with a * are good choices for container growing.


butterfly milkweed*
New England asters*
Joe Pye weed

lemon balm
black eyed Susan
marsh hibiscus
Shasta daisy*

Rose of Sharon
butterfly bush*

In addition to providing food, butterflies need a source of water. Butterflies don’t drink directly but stand on mud or damp sand and drink from the earth. They also get trace minerals by doing this. A cheap and easy way to provide water for your butterflies is to create a butterfly lick.

Just fill a terra cotta dish with sand and organic black earth soil mixed together and keep it very damp all summer long. If you already have a water feature such as a pond or bubble fountain, adding a few rocks wedged into the dirt surrounding it will give butterflies a good place to stand and sip water.

As the plant lists show, attracting butterflies can be as easy as adding a few herbs and flowers in pots to your existing garden. Creating a small garden filled with plants butterflies love will allow you to watch these elegant creatures all summer long.

Next: Building a wildlife pond

2 Responses to “Butterfly Gardens For Urban Gardeners”

  1. hank Says:

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  2. josh Says:

    Great post. Most of those plants that you mentioned are super easy to grow and can also be used in a rain garden, which gives butterfly’s the water the need in a natural way. Then if you add the lick also you are covered in the dry season.
    Thanks for sharing great ideas…

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