Designing a Butterfly Garden
Field Specialist in Horticulture
Learn how to make a butterfly garden, get some fun facts and tips about butterflies, and see two examples of butterfly gardens in this colorful guide.
Attract these butterflies
Black swallowtail, monarch, common buckeye, eastern tiger swallowtail, and painted lady.
- Find a location with at least 6 to 8 hours of sunlight.
- Choose an area equal to 100 square feet (roughly 10 feet × 10 feet). Several smaller areas can be planted but they need to be close together and equivalent to 100 square feet.
- Plant lots of flowers!
- Different colors.
- Different shapes.
- Different sizes and heights.
- Combine nectar and caterpillar food sources.
- Plant at least 10 plants of two different species to increase butterfly numbers.
- Direct seed flowers and use flower transplants.
- Add a small clay saucer or birdbath with sand or small pebbles in the bottom and shallow water for butterflies.
- Add light colored rocks for basking in the sunlight on cool mornings.
- Add fruit peelings like watermelon or cantaloupe to attract some butterflies.
Attract these caterpillars
Black swallowtail and monarch caterpillars.
Food sources for caterpillars
Parsley for black swallowtail caterpillars. Milkweed for monarch caterpillars.
- There are 198 recorded species of butterflies in Missouri. Each species is unique and requires various nectar and food sources.
- The role of butterflies is important in nature. As pollinators, they help plants produce fruit and seeds.
- Butterflies love the sun. They use it to increase their body temperature, which is necessary for flight.
- Butterflies have food preferences. Flowers with high sugar concentration are best as a food source.
- Lifecycle of a butterfly is complete metamorphosis: egg, caterpillar, pupa to adult.
A round butterfly garden with purple coneflower, zinnia, butterfly weed, and black-eyed Susan plants.
A round butterfly garden with purple coneflower, cosmos, sunflower, and milkweed plants.