One good way to enjoy the company of butterflies, and attract swarms of them, is by planting a butterfly garden. The perfect butterfly garden is a simple one, and even the smallest garden can provide the food, water, perches, and shelter butterflies need. It's easy to lure these beautiful insects into your backyard - and keep them coming back year after year.

Planning & Designing Your Butterfly Garden

First you'll want to do a little looking around to decide on what butterfly plants you will include in your garden. Wilson Bros Gardens offers many plants that are attractive to butterflies. 

If you plan carefully and select a variety of plants that flower at successively later dates, you will be rewarded with butterflies throughout the season, and they butterflies will love you for it!

Purchase plants that are available and special order any that aren't. Keep in mind that many perennial plants are only available during the warm season: spring and summer, are are in shorter supply during winter. 

Here's some links to help you find butterfly plants available in Wilson Bros Gardens...

Links go here...

Garden Shape & Location

After making your list of plants, spend some time to sketch a basic plan out on paper.

An important consideration when designing your butterfly garden is its shape, and where you'll locate it on your property. Sites that receive all day sun or morning sun with afternoon shade are preferred, as many of the plants that produces the flowers butterflies like prefer sun. That being said, there are some shade plants that produce flowers butterflies like and feed on. 

Curved, narrow flower beds are best, because the butterflies can access the blooms from all sides of the plants. 

Plant your garden near decks, patios, porches or just outside windows of your home so you can view them in up close in action.

Don't crowd your garden with large trees or shrubs, but do arrange to have several in or near the garden. Butterflies need room to accommodate their wings as they flutter about the blossoms. Select a variety of plants that are low to medium to tall in height.

Planting Your Butterfly Garden

There are different methods for planting a butterfly garden and the plants that will go in it. Some folks say its best to till up the entire garden area, however, this can bring lots of buried weed seeds to the surface that will sprout and compete with your desirable plants. Of course you can till the entire area if you like, however we usually just dig holes for each plant. If you want to till, check out a method provided by a contributor in the comment section below this article. 

Below are basic guidelines and helpful tips for planting a butterfly garden in well-drained soil:

  1. Plot the perimeter of the garden shape out with marker paint, flour or a garden hose.

  2. Thoroughly spray existing weeds and grass plants inside the perimeter of the garden with a glyphosate-based weed killer such as Hi-Yield Killzall. Mix as directed on label. Always wear protective clothing and eye wear when spraying a chemical. Allow spray to dry for about two hours before planting plants.

    NOTE:  If you do not want to spray a glyphosate-based weed killer check out a weed killing method provided by a contributor in the comment section below this article. 

  3. After spray has dried, use a round point garden shovel to dig a trench about 4 to 6 inches deep around the perimeter of the garden, following your painted line.This will help to define your garden from any sorrounding lawn grass.

  4. Before planting, arrange the perennials, and any other plants or trees you have purchased, in the garden. If you didn't draw out a plan, place taller varieties towards the back of the border (or center if the garden will be viewed from all sides). Place mid-size plants in front or nestled between taller ones. Place lower growers at the front or edge of the bed. 

    When setting the plants out in the bed make sure to space them properly. If a plant grows 18 inches wide mark out a circle on the ground with an 18" diameter (marking paint works great for doing this.) Set the plant in the center of the circle. Also mark out areas where missing plants will be planted later when they are available. After placing all of the plants, step back to take a look to make sure you have things set up the way you want. Make any final placement adjustments.

  5. When you are satisfied that everything is in place, remove one plant at a time from its container and plant it. For planting, dig holes 2 to 3 times as wide as the container the plant came in. Mix in a good soil amendment, such mushroom compost, your own home-made compost, or a planting mix at a 50/50 ratio with the soil removed from the hole. Place plant in hole with the top edge of the root ball at ground level, or slightly above to allow for settling. Backfill around plant with soil mixture, tamping lightly as you go to remove air pockets.

  6. Give your newly planted perennials and other plants a good soaking when you've finished planting.

  7. Mulch your new butterfly garden with a 2" layer of shredded wood mulch or pine straw. We prefer wood mulch at 2 inches deep as it provides a better barrier against weed growth.

  8. Many of the plants that attract butterflies, such as Lantana and butterfly bush, require little if any attention to watering once established. But during the first summer, glance over all your plants every day to see if they need watering. Be careful not to over water. Whenever in doubt, use the finger test method to check for soil moisture and water if the soil feels dry and/or the foliage on your plants is wilting or showing other signs of stress.
The base of your butterfly garden is now complete.

TIP: During the first year or so, you might want to plant some butterfly attracting annual flowers, such as Petunia, here and there in the garden for extra-added color. 

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