16 Jul Attracting Butterflies

Attracting butterflies to your garden involves incorporating plants that serve their needs in superbenacherryfrostall stages of their development. They need places to lay eggs. They need  food plants for their caterpillars. And, they need places to form chrysalises.  Finally, they need nectar sources. Butterflies are colorful, useful pollinators that are a welcome addition to any garden. So, how can you attract them? Create a butterfly habitat.

Locate Your Garden in a Sunny Area

Butterflies and most butterfly-attracting plants prefer full sun. They like plenty of sun. Preferably 5-6 hours a day.

Plant Nectar Producing, Colorful Flowers 

It is best to provide both nectar producing plants as well as food producing plants in your pollinator garden. Butterflies visit flowers in search of nectar. They prefer red, yellow, pink, purple, white and orange blossoms. Clusters of short, tubular flowers or flat topped blossoms provide the ideal shape for landing and feeding.  Groups of brightly colored plants are easier to locate than an isolated plant here and there. Opt for all shapes and colors for optimal success.

Plant for continuous Bloom Throughout the Growing Season

Butterflies are active from early spring until late fall. Plant so there are continuous blooms from early spring through fall.

Include Host Plants

Host plants provide food for caterpillars and lure female adults to lay eggs. Because many butterflies and native plants have evolved together, they depend on each other for survival. Local native plants match the needs of pollinators. For that reason, include native plants in your garden designs.

Include Damp Areas of Shallow Puddles in the Garden

Butterflies get water from dew, nectar and tree sap. Areas that tend to puddle are also sources of water. Some drink and extract minerals from moist soil. Create a water source.  Place coarse, wet sand in a shallow pan and place it in your butterfly garden. Be sure to keep the sand moist all season.

Provide a Resting Area and Shelter

Butterflies need sun and warmth for orientation and flight. They often perch on warm stones, bare soil or vegetation to spread their wings and bask in the sun. Basking in the sun raises their body temperature so they are able to fly and remain active. A safe space or place to hide from predators is also important. Trees and shrubs can provide adequate shelter. A butterfly house is another option.

Do Not Use Pesticides in or Near a Butterfly Garden

Most traditional garden pesticides are toxic to butterflies. Use insecticidal soap or hand pick if necessary.


Monarch populations are on the decline. Help to restore the monarch population by planting milkweed and nectar sources that attracts them. We love seeing monarchs, but there are many more butterfly species in New Jersey. Learn more here.


For more information, stop by or give us a call.