how to plan a butterfly garden how to plan a butterfly garden

How to Plan a Butterfly Herb Garden

Learn how to plan a butterfly herb garden. You just cannot plant any herb in your butterfly garden. There are some specifications.See more to find out

How to Plan a Butterfly Herb Garden

A well-designed butterfly garden turns out to be a small but representative example of the healthy surroundings that provides a safe environment for butterflies to gather, acquire food, seek shelter and reproduce. When herb blossom they naturally attract pollinating insects and butterflies. Many herbs such as dill work as host plants for butterfly larvae. While you are planning an herb garden keep these things in mind and attract more butterflies and insects to benefit the rest of the garden.

Key Points: 

  • Herb gardens naturally attract butterflies by providing nectar and host plants.
  • Key elements include nectar plants, larval hosts, shelter, water sources.
  • Choose herbs with different bloom times to feed butterflies all season.
  • Dill, fennel, parsley are great butterfly-attracting herbs to grow.

Major Components of a Butterfly Garden

  • Adult nectar sources – These sources attract and feed adult butterflies.
  • Larval Host Plants – These plants attract female butterflies and serve as a nourishing source for developing larvae.
  • Shelter – Plants that provide security from predators, storms/rain, temperature extremes as well as location for roosting/sleeping.
  • Water source with fountain – Make sure your garden has enough water sources to allow easy access to water for thermoregulation and drinking.

How to Design a Butterfly Garden

Designing a butterfly herb garden is all about making good use of all the major components discussed above. Let’s start with adult nectar sources and larval host plants. Plant them in good number so that the garden can attract more butterfly species; encourage them to stay and reproduce. Whenever possible incorporate some native plants as most larva host plants are native. Create various microclimates by planning them in different heights and growth habits. It is mostly important to attract greater diversity of various butterfly species. And finally, choose herb plants with different blooming season which does not only keep the garden attractive in every season but also provide food for butterflies during the time of low natural availability.

Herbs for Butterfly Garden

You just cannot plant any herb in your butterfly garden. There are some specifications. Small butterflies, for example cabbage whites prefer mint, lavender, thymes, rosemary and oregano. Large butterflies need some space to land, so they like to sit on chamomile, yarrow, dill, fennel and bee balm. Fennel and dill also work as host and nectar plants. Other common host plants are tansy, violets, French tarragon, yarrow, nasturtiums, borage and saga. Parsley is a favorite of swallowtail butterflies. Be very careful while you are harvesting any of the host plant in your garden.

A few herbs are poisonous to humans but not to butterflies. For instance, penny royal and rue we hardly ever eat but they are beloved herbs to butterflies. They work as nectar source to them. Fleabane which is used to repel fleas is also a nectar plant for butterflies. Saponaria is a dinner to butterflies which was used as soap for human in the past.

Provide Them an Organic Environment

Attracting beautiful butterflies and other beneficial wildlife is good for you and for the environment. You should be aware of the fact that bees and butterflies cannot tolerate even a tiny amount of toxins, so they help us to notice that the herb garden design is organically or non-organically arranged.


What type of herbs work well as nectar sources for butterflies?
Mints, thyme, oregano, lavender, chamomile, yarrow, bee balm, and borage provide excellent nectar for butterflies.

Which herbs can host butterfly larvae?
Dill, fennel, parsley, violets, and tansy work very well as host plants for butterfly larvae.

What kind of water source should a butterfly herb garden have?
Include a shallow water source like a bird bath or fountain for butterflies to hydrate and thermoregulate.

How can herbs provide shelter for butterflies in the garden?
Let some herbs flower and go to seed. Their mature plant growth provides shelter and roosting spots.

Should native plants be incorporated into butterfly herb gardens?
Yes, include native flowers and herbs as many butterfly larvae depend on regional native plants.

How should herbs be arranged to attract diverse butterflies?
Plant herbs with varying heights, bloom seasons, and growth habits to attract more species.

Why is it important to garden organically for butterflies?
Butterflies and bees cannot tolerate any toxins. Chemicals harm pollinators, so garden organically.


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  4. When To Plant Herbs


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