Butterflies do have their favorite flowers which include the bright colored salvia, verbena, ageratum, gaillardia, phlox, black-eyed Susan, marigolds, pentas and zinnias. But if you add lots of color from an assortment of flowers they are going to be stopping by anyway. Many of the flowers also invite hummingbirds to visit if they are nesting in your area.
Like most garden flowers these prefer a full sun location. Find a spot where the butterflies can wing their way in from nearby trees and shrubs. Also, add a shallow water bath. This could be a shallow tray with some pebbles or birdbath with just a little water.
If you really want to make the butterflies happy find them plants where they can raise the caterpillar stages. Just a few include the milkweeds, Dutchman?s pipe, parsley, poinsettia, beans and passion vines. You do have to expect holes in the foliage and lots of caterpillars after the butterflies lay their eggs.
Here are a few tips to establish a colorful and very active butterfly garden:
- Improve the soils with organic matter including compost, peat moss and manures before planting.
- Add a 1 to 2- inch mulch layer to stretch the time between waterings.
- Moisten the soil whenever the surface begins to dry to the touch.
- Periodically prune off declining shoots and faded flowers to keep the plants in bloom.
- Avoid using all pesticides so not to damage the life stages of the butterflies.
Butterflies are much easier to invite in than hummingbirds but you could entice both to visit your gardens.