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8 Easy Tips to Grow Your Own Butterfly Garden

See brilliant flashes of color by growing these plants that attract butterflies

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Showy displays of color attract butterflies

Plant flowers with blooms of vibrant purple, orange, yellow, and red. Single blooms provide better access to nectar than double blooms do. Don’t miss these fascinating facts about butterflies.

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Avoid flowers that hang downward or have ruffled edges

Butterflies find these types of plants hard to sip from.

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Plant in bunches

Butterflies are more likely to visit a group than a single plant.

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Include certain plants that are irresistible to butterflies

One is so attractive to the colorful little visitors that it shores their name: the butterfly bush (Buddleia davidii), a graceful shrub with showy clumps of vibrant purple flowers. Marigolds, nasturtiums, impatiens, zinnias, hollyhocks, and daylilies are among the flowers butterflies love, along with sweet william, heliotrope, purple coneflowers, bright red bee balm and (not surprisingly) butterfly weed (Asclepias tuberosa).

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These herbs are especially seductive to butterflies

Borage, dill, fennel, chives, and wild bergamot also draw in butterflies. Other good lures are wisteria, coreopsis, white clover, sweet alyssum, lantana, snakeroot, and sedum. Tailormade seed combinations designed to attract butterflies are offered by some of the larger garden seed companies.

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Make butterflies stay with overripe fruit

Overripe fruit is attractive to butterflies. Leave dishes filled with mixes of mashed fruit, molasses, beer, or fruit juice in the yard. Or soak dish towels in the mix and drape them over trees and shrubs.

Look into a butterfly house

Check garden centers and mail-order catalogs for the little wooden shelters that protect butterflies from birds and bad weather. Most come with a mounting pole, and all have narrow vertical doors that are too small for hungry birds to enter. Check out these secrets gardening centers don’t tell you.

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Beware of harmful caterpillars

Remember that when you create an environment hospitable to butterflies, you also invite them to lay the eggs that will become caterpillars, which could affect other plants in your garden. The cabbage white, for instance, is a destructive pest to nasturtiums, cabbages, and radishes. One solution: plant enough for both you and the pests. Luckily, most other caterpillars are not excessively greedy. At worst, they munch a few leaves without doing much damage, which is a small price to pay for the beautifully colored wings they will bring into your garden.

Reader's Digest

Get more gardening advice!

Check out this A to Z guide of flowers, fruits, herbs, and vegetables, including tips on what to grow where, using the right tools, and designing beautiful spaces. Get more information on the Reader’s Digest Quintessential Guide to Gardening here.

Originally Published in Reader's Digest Quintessential Guide to Gardening