Guest Column

Kathy’s Gardening Guide: Attract butterflies to your garden


It can be captivating to watch a butterfly. We find ourselves taking a moment away from the hectic demands of everyday life to enjoy the wonder of these delicate creatures.

Planting a butterfly garden is a beautiful and colorful way to attract butterflies into your landscape.

An intentionally planned butterfly garden provides a safe place for these visitors. They can easily find food and water, take shelter and reproduce. Strong butterfly populations also support the larger environment by attracting other insects that benefit the garden and providing food for mammals, birds and lizards that help control pests in the garden.

A sustainable butterfly garden should include vegetation that supports both adults and larvae; plants that provide shelter from strong temperatures, heavy rain and predators; and a water source for the butterflies.

Remember these tips as you design your butterfly garden:

  • Garden in both full sun and partial shade.
  • Use quality topsoil to ensure plants and flowers are enriched.
  • Include milkweed, fennel, and purple passion vine. These are host plants that provide food for caterpillars in order for them to cocoon.
  • Add black eyed susans, butterfly bush, coreopsis, firebush, gaillardia, lantana, pentas, porterweed, sage and sunflowers to attract adult butterflies.
  • Select an assortment of plants that bloom at different times so that the butterflies have a consistent food source.
  • Choose plants of varying heights, colors, shapes and sizes.
  • Arrange plants in groups as butterflies are more likely to land in a concentration of color instead of on a single plant.
  • Consider planting sweet-smelling plants and/or herbs such as sedum, lavender and fennel.
  • Include a water feature or a bird bath — even a simple shallow dish with water and rocks will encourage butterflies to visit!

Enhance your space by planting shrimp plants, dwarf or regular bottlebrush trees, and mystic spires salvia. These additions will also bring hummingbirds to your butterfly garden.

Happy planting!

NOTE: Kathy’s Creative Gardens services areas from Ponte Vedra Beach north to Neptune Beach and inland to the Nocatee area. For readers living outside these neighborhoods, Kathy’s Creative Gardens staff are unable to provide onsite services at your homes, but they say they would love to see you at the nursery, 196 N. Roscoe Blvd.

Please email Kathy at for any questions or gardening tips you would like to see in the future. For more information & ideas, visit Kathy’s Creative Gardens & Nursery, 196 N. Roscoe Blvd. The phone number is 904-655-7373.