How Can You Attract Butterflies to Your Garden?

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Butterflies can be attracted to your garden by a variety of methods including planting brightly coloured flowers and bushes, providing food in the form of rotten fruit or by providing other places where they will congregate.

Flowers and Bushes

To attract butterflies to your garden you need to provide attractive food in the form of brightly coloured flowers and feeders and puddles for drinking water. Leave a part of your garden wild by allowing the grass to grow longer and sprinkling wild flower seeds throughout the area. Choose an area that has sunshine for most of the day but is sheltered from the wind. A few flat stone scattered about will provide resting places. At the edges of the wild area plant flowers and shrubs with brightly coloured blooms.

Butterflies prefer single flowers rather than double blooms as they are easier for gathering nectar. Mix up the colours as butterflies have different preferences. Some will be attracted to flowers in shades of red, orange or yellow, some prefer whites or blues or purples. Also plant in clumps to provide an attractive mass of colour. Annuals and perennials to plant include phlox, lavender, zinnias, asters, candytuft, catnip, daisies, goldenrod, verbena and Marigold. Shrubs and bushes include the butterfly bush (buddleia), honeysuckle, mock orange, potentilla, hawthorn, lilac, and hyacinth.

Make an Artificial Puddle

Shallow puddles will attract butterflies so you can make a permanent artificial puddle. Take a shallow dish and add some sand then moisten with water, stale beer or some fruit juice. Bury the dish up to the rim in a sunny part of the garden.

Food for Butterflies

Butterflies love fermenting fruit and vegetables. A fruit tree in the garden will attract the butterflies if you allow the fallen fruit to stay on the ground. Put out small amounts of over ripe fruit, any type will do, butterflies will love it mushy and fermenting. Uneaten bananas can be stored in the freezer and defrosted when required. The freezing process will turn them black and the fruit inside will be mushy. Just right for attracting butterflies!

Feeders for Butterflies

An easy butterfly feeder can be made by using a shallow saucer or dish with a sloping rim and hanging to a tree branch or pergola with flower pot hangers. Hang it higher than the surrounding flowers. To attract the butterflies plastic or silk flowers can be attached to the hanger. Put some mushy, fermenting fruit sprinkled with water or fruit juice in the dish. Check regularly to make sure it is still damp as butterflies do not like dried food.

Butterfly Nectar

In place of the rotten fruit you could make butterfly nectar by boiling together 1 cup of sugar and 4 cups of water. Do not add any food colouring but, to attract the butterflies, add some brightly coloured objects or plastic flowers to the feeder. You can store the unused nectar in the refrigerator for around a week.

Sponge Butterfly Feeders

Brightly coloured sponges can be soaked in butterfly nectar and hung from pergolas or trees in areas where there are no other flowers.

By providing the ideal conditions for butterflies you will enjoy their visits throughout the summer.

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Janet Ashby is a keen gardener who finds gardening in the tropics a challenge. For more information and lots of craft ideas visit or

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