When you attract butterflies to your garden, you bring wonder and beauty to your outdoor environment. And, thanks to their mad pollinating skills, these fascinating insects are highly beneficial to your garden.

Fortunately, it’s easy to attract butterflies to your yard. All you need is the right combination of outdoor flowers, plants and shrubs, and you’ll play host to these delightful visitors all summer long.

butterfly garden

Choose Garden Plants that Attract Butterflies

To attract butterflies to your garden, you’ll need nectar plants, which provide a reliable food source. But, if you really want to attract large butterfly populations, you also need host plants where they can lay their eggs.

Native Utah flowering plants are the best choice for your butterfly garden. Local insects have evolved to depend on the plants that are common to our geographic area. Some species of butterflies are migratory, and may visit while they’re passing through. Rest assured that even the out-of-towners will enjoy our native flora.

When choosing your butterfly garden plants, choose flowers in a range of vibrant colors. Short, flat-topped or clustered blossoms in red, yellow, orange, pink and purple are most attractive to adult butterflies.

To encourage butterflies to make a home on your property, choose outdoor plants that continuously bloom. You can also choose different varieties of seasonal flowering shrubs, so that you’ll have plenty of blossoms in the spring, summer and fall

Finally, since butterflies prefer to feed in the sunlight, plant nectar plants in those areas of the yard that receive full sun from mid-morning to mid-afternoon.

Add Landscaping Elements for Your Butterfly Garden

After you select the right mix of nectar and host plants, don’t forget the rest of the landscaping elements that will attract butterflies to your garden.

Butterflies like shelter from the wind, so make sure your yard has plenty of shrubs and landscaping trees. They also enjoy basking in the sun, so arrange several smooth, flat stones among your flowering plants.

For a truly butterfly-friendly environment, you also need water puddles. Many winged insects partake in puddling, which allows them to get a drink and absorb minerals. If rainfall is sparse and your landscape has no puddles, place a few shallow containers of sandy water in sunny areas of your backyard.

A Word of Caution about Butterfly Bushes

You may have heard or read about butterfly bushes. Because they are loaded with attractive blooms, these shrubs are often recommended for use in butterfly gardens.

Unfortunately, we need to be cautious with these aggressive, non-native shrubs in Northern Utah. Without constant care – deadheading every bloom and never letting them go to seed -- butterfly bushes can take over your yard and garden and spread to neighboring properties. If they take hold in the wild, they can become invasive and uncontrollable, choking out native plant species and disrupting the delicate ecosystem.

The best –and safest – way to attract butterflies to your garden is to choose native flowering plants. They will thrive with much less water and require less care.

Millcreek Gardens offers a wide variety of native landscape and garden plants, annual flowers, shade trees and more. For more advice on how to attract butterflies to your garden, visit our Salt Lake City garden center today.