Butterfly Garden Tips and Plants

Reakirt's Blue butterfly

Butterfly Garden Design

Group garden flowers in masses to attract the attention of passing butterflies.
Select a combination of garden plants that bloom at different times of the year.
Know which butterflies live in your area and which flowers they prefer. Some plants attract butterflies of all species, such as Lantana and Salvia greggii (Autumn Sage). Other plants tend to attract butterflies of selected species. The Asclepias (Milkweeds) and Conoclinium greggii (Gregg's Mistflower) attract mostly Queen and Monarch butterflies.
Use both caterpillar food plants and nectar plants to lure adult butterflies. Female butterflies look for a suitable food plant on which to lay their eggs.
Offer pieces of overripe fruit. This attracts butterflies such as the Empress Leilia that are attracted to rotting fruit and tree sap but rarely flowers.
Furnish windbreaks.
Provide shade for hot days.
Install flat rocks for resting places in both morning sun and all day shade.
Supply damp soil from which butterflies can absorb salts and nutrients.
If a garden plant seems to have too many caterpillars, either put in additional plants of the same type or pick off the excess caterpillars. These surplus caterpillars can be dumped in a bucket of soapy water. Getting rid of caterpillars, however, reduces the number of butterflies.
Do not use pesticides. They harm butterflies and hummingbirds. Let birds remove the bugs, or spray them off with water.

Butterfly Nectar and Caterpillar Food Plants
All plants are nectar sources except where noted

Aloysia gratissima: Whitebrush

Attracts More Butterflies Anisacanthus quadrifidus var. wrightii: Flame Acanthus
A caterpillar food plant for Elada and Arizona Checkerspot butterflies.

Aristolochia watsonii: Southwestern Pipevine
A caterpillar food plant for the Pipevine Swallowtail butterfly. This plant does not supply nectar.

Attracts More Butterflies Asclepias linaria: Pineneedle Milkweed
A caterpillar food plant for Queen and Monarch butterflies.

Attracts More Butterflies Asclepias subulata: Desert Milkweed
A caterpillar food plant for Queen and Monarch butterflies.

Attracts More Butterflies Asclepias tuberosa: Butterfly Milkweed
A caterpillar food plant for Queen and Monarch butterflies.

Reakirt's Blue
Reakirt's Blue butterfly

Barkleyanthus salicifolius: Willow Ragwort

Caesalpinia pulcherrima: Red Bird of Paradise

Calliandra californica: Baja Fairy Duster
A caterpillar food plant for Blue butterflies.

Citrus species (all), such as
Citrus reticulata: Mandarin / Tangerine
are caterpillar food plants for the Giant Swallowtail butterfly. The caterpillar resembles bird poop.

Attracts More Butterflies Conoclinium greggii: Gregg's Mistflower
A nectar source for Queen and Monarch male butterflies.

Justicia spicigera: Mexican honeysuckle
A caterpillar food plant for the Texas Crescent butterfly.

Attracts More Butterflies Lantana camara: Lantana

Lantana montevidensis: Trailing Lantana

Attracts More Butterflies Monardella villosa: Coyote Mint

Ruta graveolens: Rue
A caterpillar food plant for the Black Swallowtail and Giant Swallowtail butterflies.

Salvia coccinea: Scarlet Sage

Salvia elegans: Pineapple Sage

Salvia farinacea: Mealycup Sage

Attracts More Butterflies Salvia greggii: Autumn Sage

Sarcostemma cynanchoides subsp. hartwegii: Climbing Milkweed
A caterpillar food plant for Queen and Monarch butterflies.

Senna hirsuta v. glaberrima: Slimpod Senna
A caterpillar food plant for Sulphur butterflies. It does not supply nectar.

Thymophylla pentachaeta: Golden Dyssodia
A caterpillar food plant for the Dainty Sulphur butterfly.

Zinnia acerosa: Desert Zinnia

Attracts More Butterflies = These plants receive the most butterfly visits.

Latest update: September, 2021
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