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Grow a Butterfly Garden

Part of the The Butterfly Conservatory exhibition.

Three children hold magnifying glasses and look for butterflies amongst the plants in the vivarium. © AMNH/D. Finnin

A butterfly garden, large or small, can attract butterflies to your back yard. Here are some tips for creating your own garden:

  • Sunny gardens attract the most butterflies, so plant in the brightest part of your garden.
  • Some important details to consider are sunny spots for basking, shelter from wind and rain, and sources of fresh water. Mud or sand puddles are used by adult male butterflies to obtain essential salts, needed for reproduction.
  • Nectar plants provide food for a variety of adult butterflies, while different host plants, which supply caterpillars with food, attract specific species. Keep in mind that nectar plants may also serve as host plants to some species. You may want to include both in your garden.
  • Most caterpillars feed only on specific types of host plants, so female adult butterflies deposit their eggs only on the plants their offspring will eat. By including host plants in your garden, you can witness the entire life cycle of the butterfly.
  • Choose plants that will bloom at different times throughout the season. Try experimenting with a variety of plants that appeal to diff