Planting a butterfly garden can be very rewarding. It will supply you with beautiful flowering perennials all summer long and will supply your winged visitors with a food and roosting source. The key to a successful butterfly garden is to meet the needs of both the adult butterfly and her young caterpillars. Female butterflies will locate and lay her eggs on only the type of plant that the caterpillar can use as food. For this reason, there should be host plants that can be used as food for caterpillars planted near nectar plants that will act as food for the adult butterflies. The key is to not plant them too close, but close enough so that the adult butterfly does not have to leave your property to lay eggs – some say approximately 20-30 ft.
Having a large variety of plants that offer a source of nectar such as Liatris, Coreopsis, Butterfly Bush, Coneflower, Milkweed, Shasta Daisy, Zinnia, Orange Hyssop, Monarda and Lupine will encourage adult butterflies to stick around. It is equally important to account for the needs of the caterpillar if you wish to have a true butterfly sanctuary. Dill, Fennel, Parsley, Carrot, Mallow, Hollyhock, Lilac and Hops are all great sources of food for caterpillars.