How to Plant a Beautiful Butterfly Garden

By July 1, 2019 Blog

Searching for something new to offer your customers? Next time your clients are looking to add color and life to their landscape, look no further than a butterfly garden. These beautiful habitats not only look good, but they also do good. Essential pollinators are on the decline. Planting butterfly gardens can go a long way in conserving these important, delicate fertilizers.

And, while lots of plants can attract a passing butterfly, only a thoughtfully designed garden will become a sanctuary for a Silver-spotted Skipper or a Pearl Crescent. Properly planned, the garden will provide food plants for the full life-cycle of the species.

These essential elements will have your butterfly garden alive with Red-banded Hairstreaks, Eastern Tailed-Blues, and the migrating Monarchs. Here are the four keys to success for your next butterfly garden project.


Let there be light! Butterflies are cold-blooded. They need at least six hours of direct sunlight, starting in the morning. A large, flat rock where they can spread their wings to warm in the sun would be ideal. It just so happens that most of the plants they thrive on also require full sun exposure. It’s a win-win situation.


We aren’t talking anything fancy. They don’t need much, but they do need a consistently moist area or “puddling station.” It can be a low, damp area of rock and sand or even a small birdbath filled with sand.  Just make sure the area is protected from the wind to prevent drying out. Butterflies get moisture from plant nectar, dew, tree sap and by sucking minerals from the wet mud and sand you provide.

Food Plants

There are two types of plants every butterfly needs to thrive and live out their life in your garden. These plants are specific to the stage of life of the butterfly. And that caterpillar needs lots of nutrients to develop and spread its wings as a gorgeous butterfly. Make sure you provide for both.

  1. Butterfly Food Plants – Lucky for us, butterflies drink the nectar of beautiful, vibrant flowers, and they make a gorgeous addition to any landscape. Plant large patches of diverse flowers to attract a greater variety of butterflies. And, be sure to include flowers that bloom from early spring to late fall. In the Northeast, butterfly bushes, purple coneflower, beebalm, and asters are some flowering food plants that fit the bill. Their sweet drink will have local butterflies flocking to your garden.
  1. Caterpillar Food Plants – These plants are the key to having your butterflies stay, lay eggs, and overwinter in your garden. Caterpillars can be picky, so getting this right is essential. Milkweed, parsley, Baptisia, and fennel are a few of the plants they will gladly chomp on in our area.


Who doesn’t need a small place to stop and get some rest or hide from a scary predator? Delicate butterflies need shelter from the wind, predators, the sun, and a place to hibernate for the winter. Trees and shrubs fit the bill. By providing a sheltered garden, they will come.

Help welcome butterflies in all their glorious color and forms to your client’s landscape. Butterfly gardens are a unique and beautiful offering that can enhance properties and outdoor living.

By the way, The North American Butterfly Association recommends in our rock and clay-heavy soils to create a wood-chip base. Our high-quality, organic, recycled wood mulch is just what you need for your butterfly garden installation.

Contact us. We deliver.