Planning a Butterfly Garden

If you want to attract butterflies to your garden, you need to know which butterflies are local to your area, and what plants they like.

Even more important, what do their caterpillars like to eat?

Pretty swallowtail cat.

Butterfly caterpillars or “cats” can be found nibbling on the leaves of Asters, Anise, Carrots, Dill, Fennel, Milkweed, Parsley, Parsnips, Snapdragons, Sunflowers, and Violets.

That’s okay, as they won’t cause any significant damage.

In my Northeast Pennsylvania garden, these are the butterflies I would expect to see: Brush-footed, Swallowtails, Gossamer winged, Metalmarks, Whites and Sulfurs and Skippers.

Find what’s common to your area.

To attract these butterflies:

Plant Flower Color Bloom Height Sunlight Note
Aster Blue White Pink Purple Late summer to fall Dwarf: 12-18” Regular: 18-24” Dwarf: Partial Shade Regular: Full Sun Deer resistant
Bee Balm Pink or purple Summer to Fall 36-48” Full Sun and Partial Shade Edible
Black-eyed Susan Yellow Mid-summer to Fall 18-30” Full Sun and Partial Shade Deer resistant
Butterfly bush Dark purple Mid-late summer 6-10’ Full Sun Deer resistant Shrub
Butterfly weed Orange and yellow Late Spring-Midsummer 18-24” Full Sun and Partial Shade
Coreopsis Yellow Pink Red Summer-fall 10-24” Full Sun and Partial Shade Some varieties are Deer Resistant
Lilac purple Early Spring Most 4-8’ up to 30’ Full Sun Shrub
Marjoram both Wild and Sweet Pink- purple Midsummer to Fall Wild 18-40” Sweet 4-6” Full Sun Can be invasive Edible
Marigolds Yellow and Orange Midsummer to Fall Most var. 8-12” Full sun Attract Japanese beetles Repels rabbits
Phlox Pink Purple and White Early summer to Fall 24-40” Partial Shade Deer resistant
Purple Coneflower Purple Mid-late summer 2-4’ Full Sun to Partial Shade Deer resistant
Sage Violet-blue Mid-summer to Fall 2-4’ Partial Shade Deer resistant Edible
Zinnia Multiple colors Mid-summer to Fall To 40” Full sun Good in pots and for cutting.

Dill is a favorite of some caterpillars.

Of course you can add some edibles as well. Planting carrots, fennel and dill will help your Butterfly Garden thrive.

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Categories: Butterfly Gardens, Specific-Purpose Gardens

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Gardening Jones (tm) is a self-proclaimed gardening addict sharing with those similarly afflicted on her blog. She has been seen on PBS, has a YouTube Channel where she shares even more info, and has been published in Horticulture magazine and is a regular contributor to their blog site as well as local publications.

She lives and gardens in Northeast Pa. zone 5/6

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