Growing plant combinations that butterflies love is the best way to get them to visit, but if you’d like them to stick around, here are five things you can do.
1. Give butterflies shelter
If your garden is windy, provide a windbreak. A hedge of lilacs (Syringa spp. and hybrids) is good because it provides food in spring and shelter the rest of the season. Walls and fences slow down the wind and make a nice backdrop for plants.
See our list of plants that will attract butterflies to your garden
2. Create a drinking pool
Some butterflies take in nutrients and salts from mud puddles through their long, strawlike mouth parts. You can make a permanent mud puddle with a plastic or terra-cotta saucer. Fill it with half sand and half composted manure. Pour water in, top it with an overripe banana, and watch how many butterflies stop by.
3. A start in the sun
Although butterflies may rest and hibernate in wooded areas, they only fly well when their wings are warm and dry. A rock in a sunny place is a good spot where they can prepare for a day of flying.
4. A family-friendly location
Butterflies lay their eggs on specific plants, so the caterpillars will have lots of food as soon as they hatch. If you want to see the caterpillars form chrysalises and emerge as butterflies, grow the larval plants caterpillars love: Milkweed (Asclepias spp.) for monarchs, parsley (Petroselinum crispum) for black swallowtails and snapdragons (Antirrhinum majus) for buckeyes.
Check out our Butterfly-friendly Garden Plan
5. Go easy on the sprays
Hand-picking and spot-treating with insecticidal soap are the safest ways to get rid of unwanted insects without harming butterflies.