Butterfly gardens are colorful, fragrant, and alive with the fluttering of rainbow wings. What’s there to not love about them?
Public butterfly gardens have become quite the touristy spot with people flooding in from around the world to observe the butterflies fly about their business. But you don’t have to travel far to enjoy butterflies.
You can make your porch, patio, or garden the ultimate flower hangout for butterflies. But don’t just welcome these beauties as visitors. Think also of their humble beginners, the caterpillars.
All you need is a little know-how on how to design your garden and which plants to grow. The size of the garden is no issue. Use a tiny container, a window box, or a large patch of land—whatever works best for you.
Once your butterfly garden is ready, sit out on a warm, calm day (with the obligatory tea in hand) and watch as the flying visitors flutter past you.
In this article, we’ll share with you some of our favorite butterfly garden ideas. We’ve included a quick and easy guide to make your own butterfly garden along with a list of the best butterfly-friendly plants.
But first, a quick word on what a butterfly garden exactly is.
What Is a Butterfly Garden?
A butterfly garden is more than just an aesthetic flower bed with bright colors and appealing fragrances. It’s a sanctuary for butterflies to feed, thrive, and multiply.
These gardens encourage the conservation of butterflies. They make a home for these airy creatures at all stages of their life—egg, larva, pupa, and adult.
Since the population of butterflies is in decline, why not plant your own butterfly garden to support your winged friends?
Grow nectar and host plants in a sunny area. Provide a water source, some shade, and shelter and you’re good.
A well-designed butterfly garden will invite not just one but multiple species of butterflies. You will be able to enjoy their colorful presence, and if you’re lucky, you may even get to watch a butterfly emerge from its chrysalis.
Save the butterflies and they’ll save you in return. How? Well, butterflies are master pollinators. They will pollinate your plants and vegetables and help produce more seeds.
Best Butterfly Garden Ideas
Creating a butterfly garden is a rewarding approach to attract these jewel-winged creatures to your outdoors while also aiding their conservation.
Plus, you are sure to admire the look of your garden once you make it butterfly-friendly.
Give these gardens a go. From extensive patio and backyard butterfly gardens to the space-saving container, there are many options for you to try. Choose the one that fits your taste and space the best.
1. Butterfly Garden Bench
Beautiful blooms and fragrant flowers are important if you want to create a whimsical butterfly garden. But you also need a pretty perch that invites you to rest for a while and observe the butterflies up close.
And what could be better than a bench with a butterfly-shaped backrest?
It’s a good idea to go for a lightweight, metal bench, like in the image above. You can leave it on your patio or porch without worrying about the elements of nature.
And you will also be able to carry it to your sunroom or balcony if need be.
2. Front Yard Butterfly Garden
Invite butterflies to your front yard by planting an array of nectar-rich bloomers. Arrange them in clusters so that near-sighted butterflies find it easy to spot the swaths of color.
Make sure you plan your yard so that it has a non-stop flower show. Grow a mix of perennials and annuals with different blooming seasons. That will be enough to keep the butterflies coming all year round.
Tip: Different butterfly species feed on different flowers. Go diverse with your flower selection.
3. Butterfly Garden in a Small Space
Don’t have enough garden space to devote to a butterfly garden? Don’t worry. You can still create a space to entice these cute insects.
Line a patch in your garden with old and useless wooden posts, as in the image below. Alternatively, you can use bricks. Next, grow butterfly-friendly plants in it to turn it into a culinary retreat for butterflies.
Tip: Don’t use chemical pesticides—butterflies and caterpillars are fragile. If you must, then spray pollinator-safe, organic pesticides in the evening or early morning when butterflies are not foraging.
4. Lakeside Butterfly Garden
Not many people would consider lakes when thinking about garden habitats for butterflies. But when designed with these winged insects in mind, a lake (or a small pond) can be extremely beneficial.
Grow water plants like forget-me-not, cress, and cinquefoil in the lake. In the soil around it you can grow cosmos, marigold, and daisies. The butterflies will be spoilt for choice.
A lakeside butterfly garden is also a great place to take your shoes off and relax in the midst of flitting butterflies and swaying flowers. You can also place a wooden bench there.
5. Patio Butterfly Garden
Now, here’s another great idea for you to try out—a patio butterfly garden. Create a striking display of plants by growing aster, purple coneflower, black-eyed susan, milkweed, and daisy.
Next, balance it all out. Grow plants with different hues, blooming seasons, and heights. This will help create a multilayered and multi-season garden that will appeal to many types of butterflies.
Idea: You can plant them in an attractive raised flower bed made of flat stones. Check out the image above for inspiration.
6. Butterfly Garden Park
An extensive park designed for butterflies will take a little extra time and effort, but the outcome will surely be worth it. What’s more, you can create one in your backyard if you have the space.
But don’t just go about planting butterfly-friendly flowers randomly. First, create a plan with what features you need and where.
Then do some quick research on native nectar and host plants that butterflies and caterpillars can feed on.
The butterflies will also need some water source like a pond or a birdbath in the park, along with trees and shrubs for shade. For visitors, a well-paved path for strolling and some benches to rest on should be enough.
7. Butterfly Garden Boutique Villa
How about converting your garden into a butterfly-friendly boutique villa where visitors can come and stay? Create a fairy tale atmosphere around your villa by planting bright bloomers.
You can also add some butterfly garden accessories like a water source, solar garden lights, and a butterfly house. And perhaps even a bench or two.
Start small by renting out a couple of rooms of the villa. Take the visitors on guided tours across the property for butterfly-watching. This will also help educate them on the need for butterfly conservation.
8. Balcony Butterfly Garden
A colorful and fragrant butterfly garden on your balcony will add some pizzazz to your space. Plus, it’s an easy way to get gardening if you live in an urban space with little or no green space.
Introduce planters of different shapes and sizes to your balcony. While you can keep most on the floor, you can also use the railers and the ceiling to hang a few planters.
Arrange the plants at different heights so that the butterflies can see and feed on all. And don’t forget about the tiny caterpillars. Milkweed, asters, and mallow are their favorites.
9. Butterfly Garden in Container
So, how to make a butterfly container garden? The answer is simple: grow the plants that butterflies like in containers. Butterflies aren’t picky about the containers, so pick the ones that match your style.
Even if you have a small space, a few well-chosen containers will encourage butterflies to stop by for a visit.
Tip: If you’re using wicker baskets as planters, make sure you line them with plastic so that the soil won’t wash out when you water the plants.
10. DIY Butterfly Garden
What’s better than a fun DIY activity to invite more butterflies to your garden? One that can be done with the entire family together! You can also have your kids help you out in the dirt.
Grow easy-to-care-for plants that butterflies love. And don’t forget the ones that caterpillars enjoy eating. As a bonus, the plants that attract butterflies will also invite bees and birds to your garden.
Idea: As a fun and educational activity, ask your kids to mark all the plants in your garden using tiny planter sticks.
11. Backyard Butterfly Garden
A backyard designed for butterflies is more than just a large flower bed. There are many things you’ll have to keep in mind.
Most butterflies don’t migrate. This means that your backyard will have to provide a habitat and food for the entire butterfly life cycle, from egg to adult. Now, what will you need to create a backyard butterfly garden?
A sunny location for sure. Grow nectar-rich plants for butterflies and host plants for caterpillars and eggs. But don’t limit yourself to a colorful summertime extravaganza. Plant flowers with different blooming seasons.
If you are looking for an excuse to not rake the autumn leaves, here’s one. A bed of dry leaves will make a safe and warm home where butterflies and their eggs can overwinter.
12. Small Butterfly Garden
You don’t have to convert your entire lawn into a butterfly garden. A small, well-designed corner will also be enough. Only, make sure there is nectar, lots of nectar.
Choose a sunny site, put your gloves on, and pull out all the weeds. Then start growing different butterfly-friendly flowers that bloom from early spring to late fall. Feature a tiny birdbath for thirsty butterflies foraging in your garden.
Tip: You can also set up a nectar feeder in your space. Use a solution of one part sugar or honey to 18 parts water.
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13. Butterfly Garden Stakes
Welcome butterflies to your garden with colorful butterfly-shaped stakes. They are a creative decor option you can easily craft at home.
First, make templates on a piece of cardboard or plastic. Cut them out and use acrylic paints to color them. Alternatively, you can have butterfly clip art printed on a water-proof sheet of paper.
Once you have the colorful cutouts ready, stick them on your metal or wooden stakes. The final step is to spray them with a layer of acrylic sealer. Your butterfly stakes are ready for outdoor use!
14. Butterfly Garden Landscape Design
If you want to landscape a garden with butterflies in mind, plant a diverse range of all-year-round bloomers in masses for the near-sighted creatures.
For example, in spring, milkweed and violets will provide food for both the butterflies and caterpillars. Fall-blooming aster is perfect to fuel up the butterflies for the winter months.
Tip: For a striking landscape, exhibit the nectar-rich blooms in front while hiding the host plants in the background.
15. Butterfly Garden Front Porch
Bring butterflies to your front porch by turning it into a relaxing oasis for them. Plant bright and fragrant plants directly in the soil. You can also use containers if you have a concrete porch.
Border your butterfly garden using rocks for a neat look. The rocks will also provide a warm and sunny place for butterflies to sit in. A shallow tray made of plastic or porcelain can serve as an attractive water source for butterflies.
Best Plants for a Butterfly Garden
Butterflies, as well as their modest beginners–caterpillars–are choosy when it comes to selecting food from the plant buffet. So, growing the right plants in your flower bed is key to a successful butterfly garden.
Remember, the more diverse the plants, the more diverse will be the butterfly species that will visit your garden.
Here’s a list of the best plants for your butterfly garden:
- Black-Eyed Susan
- Butterfly Bush
- Purple Coneflowers
- Blanket Flower
- Bee Balm
- Joe-Pye Weed
- Bachelor Buttons
- Shasta Daisy
We’ve written a guide on the best butterfly flowers–you may want to read it!
How to Make a Butterfly Garden
A bountiful garden alive with fluttering butterflies is stunning to look at. It also greatly benefits the ecosystem, both by conserving butterfly species and pollinating plants.
What’s even better is that a butterfly garden is easy to make while not requiring all that much in terms of maintenance.
Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you ensure both flowers and butterflies flourish. Make a great butterfly garden now!
Step 1 – Pick the Right Location
Your butterfly garden can be anywhere—your front garden, yard, balcony, or a small container. Wherever you decide to plant it, make sure the location receives enough sunlight.
Tip: Because butterflies and caterpillars are tender insects, avoid areas that are often sprayed with pesticides.
Step 2 – Plan the Garden
Depending on the space you have, draw a sketch of your garden before you start planting it. You can take inspiration from the ideas above for your butterfly garden.
A well-planned garden will have nectar-rich flower clusters planted at different heights. It will also have proper landscaping to let you observe butterfly activities more closely.
Step 3 – Select the Right Plants
While selecting the plants, keep in mind your local butterfly species. You will have to grow both nectar plants and host plants.
Butterflies feed on nectar plants like butterfly weed, asters, and marigold. They are mostly bright, fragrant, and nectar-rich with wide, flat clusters for butterflies to perch on easily.
Butterflies lay their eggs on host plants. These plants also serve as a food source for the caterpillars once the eggs hatch.
Step 4 – Start Planting
Plant a mix of native annuals and perennials to extend the blooming period. Grow flowers of similar colors together in large clusters. Vary the plant heights so that the butterflies feel more sheltered.
Tip: Grow taller plants at the back of the garden and smaller plants in front. This way, the butterflies will have easy access to all the plants.
Step 5 – Add a Water Source
After all the foraging and fluttering, tired butterflies in your garden will look for water to quench their thirst. Create a drinking station by filling a shallow birdbath with water for butterflies to drink safely.
Some butterflies also relish overripe fruit: leave peaches, bananas, and pears in the garden for them. They also like mud puddles to drink from and gather essential vitamins.
Step 6 – Build Butterfly Shelters
Butterflies need shelter from wind and rain, but they don’t need fancy houses for protection.
Take a cue from nature and place a log in a corner of your garden. A heap of leaves can make a warm and safe place for them to overwinter.
Idea: Add a couple of large, flat rocks in the garden so that butterflies have a place to bask in the sun.
Step 7 – Add Butterfly Garden Accessories
How about some butterfly-shaped stakes? Or a comfy butterfly bench to sit on? Or perhaps butterfly planters for your balcony? Butterfly-themed garden accessories will add some permanent flutter to your garden.
You can also install multi-colored butterfly solar garden lights in each corner. There are plenty of options to choose from and these lights will serve a purpose beyond fancy garden accessories.
Wonderful Butterfly Gardens Around the World
Many gardens around the world offer opportunities to step into the magical world of butterflies. You will not only have the chance to observe them closely, but also witness their different life stages.
Take a look at these famous butterfly gardens with exotic and unusual butterfly species.
Dubai Butterfly Garden
This Dubai garden is claimed to be the world’s largest butterfly garden. It has ten domes housing some 15,000 butterflies of around 50 kinds.
If that’s not enough to win your heart, there is also a butterfly museum with handcrafted designs made of thousands of butterflies.
Butterfly Garden Victoria
The Victoria Butterfly Garden is an almost-jungle housing about 70 butterfly species.
You will also find in it poison dart frogs, large iguanas, flamingos, tortoises, tropical ducks, and more of the wild here.
Florida Butterfly Garden
Florida’s Butterfly Rainforest is a living exhibit that features hundreds of exotic free-flying butterflies from around the world.
You will also see tropical trees, flowering plants, and waterfalls as you casually stroll through this exhibit.
Singapore Airport Butterfly Garden
The world’s first airport butterfly garden houses over 1,000 tropical butterflies.
Apart from its striking greenery and a 6 meter grotto-waterfall enclosed in glass walls, there are educational corners with information about these winged beauties.
Monteverde Butterfly Garden
At Monteverde Butterfly Garden, you will see four different climate-controlled habitats housing up to 30 species of butterflies.
It also has a biodiversity center, a medicinal plant garden, and a leafcutter ant colony. You’ll find here some of the most fascinating insects in all of the tropics.
Butterfly Garden Frequently Asked Questions
Butterflies are a cheerful addition to any garden. More than being graceful and beautiful, they are useful in pollinating flowers.
If you’re looking to start a butterfly garden, go through these FAQs that may answer some of your queries as well.
How to start a butterfly garden?
Starting a butterfly garden is something every gardener can do in their space, big or small. You’ll first need to pick a sunny site and remove all weeds from it.
Next, do your research on the native butterflies and butterfly-friendly plants in your region. Consider which plants to grow, evaluate your garden space, and draw a rough sketch of your plan before getting down to work.
How to make a butterfly garden?
Make your own butterfly garden by first choosing a place.
Next, pick a design that will fit your space and grow butterfly and caterpillar-friendly plants in it. Lastly, provide a source of water and some shade for the butterflies.
For a quick and easy DIY, take a look at our step-by-step guide on how to make a butterfly garden.
What are the best plants for a butterfly garden?
In a butterfly garden, you’ll need nectar-rich plants for butterflies to feed on. You’ll also need host plants on which butterflies can lay eggs and caterpillars can forage.
Aster, Black-Eyed Susan, milkweed, cosmos, sunflower, butterfly bush, daisies, purple coneflowers, and yarrows are ideal to grow. Take a look at our best butterfly garden plants list for more ideas.
And Now We “Better-Fly”…
Butterflies aren’t proud or hard to entice. A garden blooming with just a handful of flowers is usually enough for them. Give them some water and shade, too, and they’re yours to enjoy all year round.
Your garden space will help protect these delicate insects. And to return the favor, they will bring color and life into your garden while also pollinating your plants and vegetables.
Even if it’s your first try, don’t hesitate to plant a richly colorful and fragrant butterfly garden. It’s lightweight, colorful work that helps you tap into all the health benefits of gardening.
Got more butterfly garden-related questions? Ask us now in the comments section below. And if you’ve already planted a butterfly garden, do let us know!