5 Tips for Creating a Beautiful Butterfly Garden

May 24, 2016 | By Roundtree Landscaping

One of the most satisfying parts about growing a garden is when you create a habitat that benefits not only you, but also local birds, frogs, earthworms, lizards and...butterflies. Butterflies are among one of the most desired garden companions. Many plants that attract butterflies are both beautiful in the garden and useful as cut flowers.

A monarch butterfly feeding on nectar from Pentas flowers.

When you’re creating a pollinator friendly garden, and one geared specifically towards attracting and supporting butterflies, there are a few important factors you’ll need to keep in mind.

Top 5 tips

In order to both attract butterflies, and sustain them, you’ll need to provide the following in your pollinator-friendly landscape:

  • Nectar Plants: Butterflies have to eat! They feed on nectar, and so will need plants that are good nectar producers.
  • Host Plants: When it’s time to “nest”, different butterfly species are particular about which plants on which they will lay their eggs. Their larvae (caterpillars) require specific plants to feed on. Passion flower, for example, is a primary host plant for the Gulf Fritillary butterfly.
  • Shelter is important for them to safely rest out of harm’s way. Providing low canopy trees and shrubs provides shelter during the rain and protection from predators.
  • Water is essential to all the pollinators you’ll want to attract to your garden. While butterflies do receive a majority of their water from nectar, shallow dishes filled with water and perches to land on will encourage the butterflies to stick around.
  • Go Organic: Keeping an organic garden, free of chemical pest controls, herbicides and other applications that could be harmful to butterflies and their caterpillars is key to sustaining them.

Butterfly Plants we Love

Your successful butterfly garden will consist of both host and nectar plants. As with any garden design, choose a variety of plants that will act as a feature plant, a border plant and a filler plant. Also choose a mixture of perennials, shrubs and even annuals.

Bronze Fennel: Perennial herb with bronzed feathery foliage and works great as a filler in arrangements. Attracts Swallowtail butterflies.

Coneflower (Echinacea): Standard is available in purple-pink flowers, but new varieties bloom in shades of peach and yellow to bright purple and red. Coneflower attracts a variety of butterfly species.

Pincushion Flower (Scabiosa): Frilly flowers available in either pink or blue provide dainty flowers for your arrangements. Seed heads left behind also look great in dried arrangements. Attracts a variety of butterfly species.


Butterfly Weed: Clusters of flowers ranging from green to orange. For best results plant native species to your region. Host and nectar plant for Monarchs. Nectar also attracts a variety of butterfly species.

Rue: Silvery herb with aromatic lobed leaves and also works great as a filler in arrangements providing good contrast. Attracts Swallowtail butterflies.

Other good butterfly plants that perform well in North Texas gardens and are easy to care fo include pentas, cosmos, salvia, marigolds, allium, nasturtium, lavender and too many others to list!

A butterfly garden is a great opportunity to move away from a more formal landscape and be ultra creative with style, texture and color.


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Collaboration with the Dallas Arboretum and First Men's Garden Club of Dallas.

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