Gardening for Butterflies

By Janis Merritt, Guest Author

When we are in our gardens enjoying the beautiful butterflies fluttering from flower to flower, we think about their beauty and how relaxed they make us feel. What we don’t realize is they’re busy doing a very important job.

How to Attract Butterflies to Your Garden

Butterflies are second only to bees as important pollinators whose hard work pays off in the production of seeds and fruits for our enjoyment, wildlife, and future plants. By providing space in our landscapes for the plants and habitat they need, we can do a lot to help protect our native butterflies.


Incorporate plants that bloom throughout the season and feature a variety of flower shapes, sizes, and colors. Most butterflies feed on the nectar of flowers. Some of the larger swallowtail butterflies can feed on tubular flowers.

Food Favorites

Some butterflies prefer rotten fruit. Integrate native plants that drop fruit such as the Mexican plum, Texas persimmon, and red mulberry.

Food for Caterpillars

Many people forget that butterflies develop from caterpillars. To help increase butterfly populations, plant some larval food plants in the landscape. A plant that provides food for the Gulf Fritillary larvae is the passion vine.

Shelter and Water

Butterflies need shelter and water so plan for that in the landscape by placing water in a shallow dish with small rocks, and plant evergreen trees and shrubs — juniper, evergreen sumac, Texas mountain laurel, cenizo, and yaupon holly — to provide shelter from wind and inclement weather.

Finally, place decorative rocks or logs in the garden as butterflies need a place to warm up before they can fly.

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Guest Author
Our Guest Authors are fantastic former SAWS employees, incredible interns and community leaders in the local landscaping world. They are all as passionate as we are about saving water with beautiful, diverse landscapes.
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