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The Magical Gardens of Disney
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Brian Bennett

Butterfly Gardening

There is nothing more relaxing to gardeners that the sight of butterflies flitting through their flowers. Designing your garden specifically with butterflies in mind is a fairly new idea, but one whose time has come. Butterflies are very fickle creatures, and each species likes something different. However, there are generalities that can be made about how to set your garden up for butterflies.

What Butterflies Live in Your Area?

The first thing you need to do is figure out what types of butterflies live in your area. This can be accomplished simply by walking around your neighborhood or surrounding area with a notebook and butterfly identification book. A botanic garden, college entomology department, or a butterfly club in your area are also good places to seek information. By gathering information about specific butterflies, you can include specific plants that attract them.

General Requirements

These few requirements are relatively easy to incorporate into your garden:

  • Sunlight
  • Nectar sources for adult butterflies
  • Food sources for caterpillars
  • Puddles
  • Shelter
  • Rocky areas

Butterflies are most active in a large open area, which can be a simple piece of yard kept mowed. Plant a lot of flowers that are known providers of nectar. Also include plants that are considered larva or caterpillar food. Puddles don't necessarily have to be large ponds; any place that is kept moist in your garden will do. Shelter for nightly roosting is easily provided by planting some vines on a fence or by having a screen of shrubs and trees in the back of your garden. Rocky areas are optional since they are species specific, and not all butterflies like rocky areas.

If you feel it is necessary to provide something additional to your garden, add feeders and butterfly houses. The feeders can be easily made by placing rotting fruit or tree sap on a plate somewhere the butterflies frequent.

Larval Plants

  • Antirrhinem majus (Snapdragon)
  • Asclepias species (milkweed)
  • Asimina triloba (Pawpaw)
  • Gynura Aurantiaca (Passion vine)
  • Hosta species (Plantain Lily)
  • Lindera bensoin (Spice Bush)
  • Liriodendron tulipifera (Tulip Poplar)
  • Sedum species (Sedum)
  • Samia floridana (Coontie)

Nectar Plants

  • Achillea species (Yarrow)
  • Ageratum species (Floss Flower)
  • Asclepias species (Milkweed)
  • Aster species (Frost Flower)
  • Buddleia davidii (Butterfly Bush)
  • Centaurea cyanus (Bachelor's-Button)
  • Cosmos species (Cosmos)
  • Daucus carota (Queen Anne's Lace)
  • Dianthus species (Pink)
  • Gaillardia species (Blanket Flower)
  • Gazania species (Gazania)
  • Hamelia patens (Firebush)
  • Heliotropium arborescens (Heliotrope)
  • Hibiscus species (Mallow)
  • Jatropha integerrima (Jatropha)
  • Lantana species (Shrub Verbena)
  • Lonicera species (Honeysuckle)
  • Pentas species (Star-Cluster)
  • Phlox species (Phlox)
  • Rudbeckia species (Cone Flower)

Other Resources

Creating a Butterfly Garden by Marcus Schneck, Simon & Schuster Inc., New York, 1995.

Attracting Butterflies to Your Garden by Diane K. Gilroy & Laura Stevens eds., Rodale Press Inc., Pennsylvania, 1992.

For Your Garden - Bird & Butterfly Gardens by Warren Schultz, Friedman/Fairfax Publishers, New York, 1996.



Garden Tours

Barb's Top 10 Disney Garden Attractions

Brian's Top 10 Disney Garden Attractions

Tips: Right Plant in the Right Place

Tips: Interior Plants

Backyard Habitats

Butterfly Gardening

Bonsai and Penjing

Water Gardening

Flower Gardening

Cutting Gardens

Disney StyleTopiary

Disney Style Horticulture at Disney's Animal Kingdom

Disney Style Hanging Baskets

Disney Style Floating Gardens


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