How to Create a Garden that Attracts Butterflies

While people take great joy in beautifully blooming gardens and lush flowerbeds, they also make an appealing spot for butterflies. Creating a space where butterflies can lay eggs, grow and live is important for our ecosystem as a whole.

Monarch butterflies in particular have faced dwindling populations and many more people are looking at ways to create habitats where these butterflies can thrive. The Monarch butterfly breeds in the United States and southern Canada during the spring and summer. In the fall, adult Monarchs make the 3,000-mile journey to Mexico where they spend the winter. Then in the spring, they head north again to lay their eggs on milkweeds and other plants.

Monarch and other pollinators like bees are critical to our environment as they keep plants producing. Those plants create the oxygen we need to breathe while reducing carbon dioxide levels.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, of the 1,400 crop plants grown around the world – those that produce our food and plant-based products – almost 80% require pollination. The USDA also estimates that crops dependent on pollination are worth more than $10 billion per year.

So how can you help? As you’re selecting plants for your own backyard flower beds and gardens, select plants that are attractive to butterflies and give them a place to live and eat.

Here are few good choices recommended by our staff horticulturists:
– Bronze fennel – A perennial herb with yellow flowers and feathery leaves. It’s ideal for the butterfly’s larval stage of feeding and is edible for humans.
– Echinacea or purple coneflower
– Anise hyssop (or blue giant hyssop) – A perennial plant in the mint family.
– Helianthus angustifolius (also known as the swamp sunflower) – This is a species of sunflower native to the eastern United States and typically found on the coast.
– Salvia leucothoe (or velvet sage) – A hardy, herbaceous perennial.
– Eupatorium purpureum (or subspecies maculatum ‘Gateway’ Joe-Pye Weed) – A clump-forming herbaceous perennial.

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