How to Plant a Butterfly Garden

How to Plant a Butterfly Garden

Love butterflies? Create a butterfly garden!

Maryland’s gardening community is more active than ever in planning out wildlife-friendly gardens. Planting natives and exotics that are food for creatures and beautiful to look at has become a mainstream aesthetic in Maryland landscaping. One of the ways this goal manifests is through butterfly gardens. Below, you’ll find information on how to plant a butterfly garden.

The Butterfly Life Cycle

Butterflies go through numerous life stages that require food and shelter all throughout. Butterflies lay their eggs on particular plants’ leaves, hatching caterpillars that munch hungrily on the foliage. Later, when the caterpillars’ bodies begin to change, they form their chrysalises and hang from a plant over the winter. Come spring, they hatch into new butterflies and drink the nectar of the many bright flowers around them.

Maryland Flowers for Butterflies

With these four life stages in mind, from egg to caterpillar to chrysalis to butterfly, the gardener has much to provide. Most butterflies will enjoy a diversity of flowering species and typically go through their life stages using different plants. 

The most notable butterfly to live solely off of one plant is the monarch butterfly, which relies on the native Maryland plant, milkweed. There are at least twelve milkweed species native to Maryland, so it is best to do some research to get the right kind. 

If you intend to grow some herbs, consider growing parsley, dill, and fennel in extra measure. The black swallowtail’s caterpillars use these herbs as host plants.

Other Maryland flowers for butterflies include the following:

  • Hollyhock
  • Snapdragon
  • Phlox
  • Queen Anne’s Lace
  • Aster
  • Azalea
  • Dogwood
  • Joe Pye Weed
  • Butterfly Weed
  • Zinnia
  • Shasta Daisy
  • Black-eyed Susan
  • Daylily
  • And many others

The Context of the Garden

As one can see, one has many plants to choose from to create a beautiful garden that will also attract a multitude of butterflies. One should follow the usual directions for plant care per species; most of the time, these plants prefer full sunlight. 

When creating your butterfly garden, consider the rest of the landscape’s design as well as the size each plant will grow to be. If you need advice on how to plant a butterfly garden in Maryland, Edward’s Lawn & Home is here to help!

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