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Butterfly Gardens

June 13, 2022


Like Wildfowers!

The most important step you can take is to plant a pollinator-friendly garden. Choose nectar and pollen-rich plants like wildflowers and old-fashioned varieties of flowers. A succession of blooming annuals, perennials, and shrubs is best so nectar and pollen will be available throughout the growing season. Also, include plants like dill, fennel, and milkweed that butterfly larvae feed on.

Creating butterfly gardens is easy and fun; learn how to spice up your yard to attract butterflies.

Our Butterfly House was recently damaged by high winds and we are rebuilding it for the 2022 season. It will be opened to the public Monday, June 20th.

Butterfly & Butterfly Weed

Provide Rocks & Water

Any size garden can attract and support pollinators — from a wildflower meadow to a planter with a few well-chosen species.

Invite butterflies to sunbathe. As cold-blooded insects, butterflies like to warm themselves in the sun. Create a few perches out of the wind; chances are you’ll also see them resting on a sunny rock or on top of a fence post.

Put a mixture of sand and soil in a plant saucer or a shallow bowl and add enough water to saturate the mixture thoroughly, but not so much that there’s standing water. Butterflies like to rest on wet sand or soil and absorb moisture and minerals from it. If the “drinking station” dries out too fast in your climate, sink a bucket filled with a wet mixture of soil and sand into the ground.

Nectar vs Host Plants

Include plants that will support butterflies throughout their life cycle. Flowering nectar plants offer food and energy for adults, while the leaves of larval plants such as parsley and milkweed nourish growing caterpillars. Plants that provide both nectar sources for butterflies and caterpillar food are especially valuable for smaller spaces.

Although each type of butterfly has its preferences for host plants, favorites typically include parsley, dill, fennel, borage, and milkweed. Other species like shrubs and trees such as serviceberry, willow, dogwood and viburnum. 

Butterfly Plants
Butterfly Plants


Avoid using pesticides. Treat your landscape like the miniature ecosystem that it is, banning the use of insecticides and herbicides. With a diversity of plant material, you’re not likely to attract large numbers of plant pests, and you’ll also be protecting natural predators.

These plants are native to and will thrive in Ohio. Help Ohio wildlife and enjoy the beauty of nature when you add one of our curated native plant collections outside your home.


Plant  SpeciesSeasonDescriptionGrowth RequirementsButterflies It  Attracts
New  England  Aster (Aster  novae-angliae)Summer-Fall3-7′,  perennial, violet  1″  flowersMoist  low  fertile soils,  full  sunVariety;  red  admiral,  painted lady,  monarch,  pearl  crescent, whites,  sulphurs
Sky  Blue  Aster (Aster  azureus)Summer-Fall24-36″,  perennial, blue  flowersMoist  or  dry  soils, shade  tolerantPearl  crescent,  whites, sulphurs
Smooth  Aster (Aster  laevis)Summer-Fall2-4′,  perennial, violet  flowersWell  drained soils,  sunny  areasRed  admiral,  pearl  crescent, whites,  sulphurs
Bee  Balm (Monarda  didyma)*Summer 2-5′,  perennial, scarlet  flowers in  tubular  whorlsRich  to  moist soils,  full  sun to  light  shadeVariety;  painted  lady, cabbage,  milbert’s  tortoise shell,  mourning  cloak, eastern tiger swallowtail
Wild  Bergamot (Monarda  fistulosa)*Summer 2-4′,  perennial, lavender-pink flowersDry  calcareous soils,  full  sun to  light  shadeVariety;  painted  lady, cabbage,  milbert’s tortoise  shell
Black-eyed  Susan (Rudbeckia  hirta)Summer-Fall 18-48″,  perennial, yellow  flowers 1-6′,  perennial,Moist  soils, sunny  areas Moist,  acidicWhites,  sulphurs,  brushfoots, skippers,  blues
Dense  Blazing  Star (Liatris  spicata)Summer 1-6′,  perennial, purple  flowers in  spikesMoist,  acidic soils,  full  sun Painted  lady,  fritillaries, skippers,  sulphurs, coppers,  checkerspots
Rough  Blazing  Star (Liatris  aspera)Summer-Fall 2-4′,  perennial, purple  flowers, broad  flower  headDry  sandy soils,  full  sun Painted  lady,  fritillaries, skippers,  sulphurs, coppers,  checkerspots
Butterfly  Weed (Asclepias  tuberosa)*Late  Summer- Early  Fall1-2′,  perennial,  various flower  colors, drought  tolerantGrows  well  in most  any  area Variety;  monarch, red  admiral,  swallowtails, skippers,  larvae
Cardinal  Flower (Lobelia  cardinalis)*Summer-Fall 2-5′,  perennial, red  flower Moist  soils, partial  shady areasBest  for  hummingbirds, bound  to  attract variety  of  butterflies
Wild  Columbine (Aquilegia  canadensis)*Spring- Summer1-3′,  perennial,  red to  pink,  unique flower  structureSunny  to shady  areas Best  for  hummingbirds, bound  to  attract variety  of  butterflies
Common  Boneset (Eupatorium  perfoliatum)Summer-Fall 2-4′,  perennial, white  flowers in  flat  clusterMoist  soils, open  areas Variety;  painted  lady,  red admiral,  tiger  swallowtail, monarch, silver-spotted skipper
Greater  Coreopsis (Coreopsis  major)*Summer 18-36″,  yellow flowers,  long bloomDry  soils, sunny  areas Variety;  eastern  tailed  blue, spring  azure,  pearl  crescent, viceroy,  red  admiral
Wild  Geranium (Geranium  maculatum)Spring- Summer1-2′,  perennial, pink  flowers Moist  well- drained  soils, partial  shadeSkippers,  eastern tailed  blue 
Goat’s  Beard (Aruncus  dioicus)Spring- Summer3-7′,  white  flowers in  branching  cluster 1-5′  perennial,Rich  soils,  light shade,  shade  tolerant Well  drainedVariety;  spring  azure 
Goldenrod (Solidago)Summer-Fall 1-5′  perennial, yellow  flowers Well  drained soils,  sunny areasSulphurs,  whites,  coppers, monarch,  hairstreaks,  viceroy, painted  lady
Stiff  Goldenrod (Solidago  rigida)Summer-Fall 3-4′,  yellow  flowers, rigid  and  upright Up  to  6′,  perennial,Well  drained soils,  full  sun Various  moistMonarch,  viceroy 
Iron  Weed (Vernonia  noveboracensis)Summer-Fall Up  to  6′,  perennial, purple  flowers Various  moist soils,  full  sun Variety;  tiger  swallowtail, monarch,  great  spangled fritillary,  silver-spotted skipper, spicebush swallowtail
Jerusalem  Artichoke (Helianthus  tuberosus)Fall 5-10′,  perennial, large  yellow  flowers 2-5′,  perennial,Moist  fertile soils Moist  soils,Variety;  monarch,  painted lady,  checkerspots
Jewelweed (Impatiens  capensis)*Summer-Fall 2-5′,  perennial, orange  and yellow  flowersMoist  soils, tolerates  full sun  to  full  shadeBest  for  hummingbirds, bound  to  attract variety  of  butterflies
Joe  Pye  Weed (Eupatorium  maculatum)Late  Summer 2-6′,  perennial, pink  to  lavender flowersMoist  soils, open  areas Variety;  painted  lady,  red admiral,  monarch,  silver- spotted  skipper,  swallowtails
Wild  Lupine (Lupinus  perennis)Spring 8-24″,  perennial, blue  pea  flower DescriptionDry  acidic  soils  Growth RequirementsLarvae
Maximillian’s  sunflower (Helianthus  maximilianii)Summer-Fall 3-7′,  perennial, large  yellow  flowers 1-3′,  perennial,Drought  tolerant, full  sun Dry  soils,Variety;  monarch, painted  lady,  checkerspots
Hoary  Mountain  Mint (Pycnanthemum  incanum)Summer-Fall 1-3′,  perennial, light  purple flowersDry  soils, full  sun Variety;  red  admiral,  eastern tailed  blue,  pearl  crescent, spring  azure,  sulphurs,  whites
Ox-eye  Sunflower (Heliopsis  helianthoides)Summer 3-6′,  yellow flowers Moist  soils, full  sun Variety;  atlantis  fritillary, European  skipper,  early hairstreak
PawPaw (Asiminia  triloba)Spring Small  broad- leafed  tree 12-36″,  perennial,Moist  soils, sun  to  light  shade Dry  soils,Larvae,  swallowtails
Pearly  Everlasting (Anaphalis  margaritacea)Summer 12-36″,  perennial, flat  clusters  of white  flowersDry  soils, sunny  areas, drought  tolerantSmall  butterflies, painted  lady 
Wild  Blue  Phlox (Phlox  divaricata)*Spring 10-20″,  perennial, blue  to  purple showy  flowersFertile  soils, well-drained, partial  shadeLarvae,  swallowtails, sulphurs,  painted  lady, viceroy
Moss  Phlox (Phlox  subulata)Spring Creeping  ground cover,  pink  flowers Up  to  4′  hardyDry  acidic  soils, shady  areas Rich,  wellSmall  butterflies
Purple  Coneflower (Echinacea  purpurea)Summer-Fall Up  to  4′  hardy perennial,  purple flowers,  heatRich,  well drained  soil, sunny  areasVariety;  tiger  swallowtail, viceroy,  great  spangled fritillary,  whites,  hairstreaks, blues, skippers
Royal  Catchfly (Silene  regia)*Summer 3-4′,  perennial, red  flowers Sandy,  dry  soils, full  sun Best  for  hummingbirds, bound  to  attract  variety of  butterflies
Spicebush (Lindera  benzoin)Spring Fragrant  shrub, white  flowers, produces  fruitMoist  soils, sunny  areas Variety;  spring  azure, larvae 
Sweet  White  Violet (Viola  blanda)Spring 3-5″,  perennial, white  flower 3-8″,  perennial,Moist,  fertile  areas, light  shade Moist soils, sunnyLarvae
Common  Blue  Violet (Viola  sororia)Spring 3-8″,  perennial, blue-white  flowers 3-8″,  perennial,Moist soils, sunny or partial shady areas Moist  to  wetLarvae 
March  Blue  Violet (Viola  cucullata)Spring 3-8″,  perennial, blue  flowers, groundcoverMoist  to  wet soils,  shade  tolerant Larvae  
Virginia  Bluebell (Mertensia  virginica)Spring 1-2′,  purple nodding  flowers 12-24″,  smallRich  soils,  sunny to  shady  areas Dry  soils,  full  sunVariety
Yarrow (Achillea  species)Summer-Fall 12-24″,  small white  flowers Dry  soils,  full  sun  Variety;  coppers,  hairstreaks, skippers,  sulphurs