Butterfly Gardens – 5 PLANT RECIPE

This “recipe” for a Butterfly Banquet comes to us from an excellent book I recently checked out of the Hamilton Library: Five-Plant Gardens (635.932 OND) by Nancy J Ondra, garden writer and editor as well as the former owner and operator of a small rare-plant nursery.  Artfully arranged with a wide variety of vibrant planting layouts there is sure to be a Five-Plant Garden for any taste.  The beautiful Butterfly Banquet below, is only one of 52 captivating gardens in this book, suitable for sun or shade and a range of soils.  Check it out from your local library or independent bookstore for simple to follow perennial garden “recipes” with easy planting tips, as well as a detailed “shopping list” and design for the Butterfly Banquet below!

Butterfly Banquet
(full sun to partial shade)

Five-Plant Gardens by Nancy J. Ondra

  • SWAMP MILKWEED – Asclepias incarnata 
    OR:  BEE BALM – Monarda ‘Marshall’s Delight’
    OR:  JOE PYE WEED – Eupatorium dubium ‘Little Joe’
  • CONEFLOWER – Echinacea purpurea ‘Little Swan’ 
    OR: PHLOX – Phlox paniculata ‘David’ 
    OR: TURTLEHEAD – Chelone glabra ‘Black Ace’ 
  • RUSSIAN SAGE – Perovskia x ‘Little Spire’
    OR: GLOBE THISTLE – Echinops ritro ‘Longwood Blue’ 
    OR: BLUEBEARD – Caryopteris x clandonensis ‘Blue Mist’ 
  • YARROW – Achillea ‘Coronation Gold’
    OR: GLORIOSA DAISY – Rudbeckia hirta ‘Prairie Sun’ 
    OR: SHASTA DAISY – Leucanthemum x superbum ‘Sonnenschein’ 
  • PINCUSHION FLOWER – Scabiosa columbaria ‘Butterfly Blue’ 
    OR: CATMINT – Nepeta faassenii ‘Kit Kat’ 
    OR: ENGLISH LAVENDER – Lavandula angustifolia 

PLANT LIST: Butterfly Gardens

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Orange + Pink

BUTTERFLY MILKWEED
– Asclepias tuberosa (info)

YARROW
– Achillea millefolium ‘Summer Pastels’ (info)

BUTTERFLY BUSH
– Buddleia x weyeriana ‘Bicolor’ (pictures)

PERENNIAL SAGE
– Salvia nemorosa ‘Sensation Deep Rose’ (info)

THREADLEAF TICKSEED
– Coreopsis verticillata ‘Sweet Marmalade’ (info)

Blue + Yellow

BUTTERFLY MILKWEED
– Asclepias tuberosa ‘Hello Yello’ (info)

YARROW
– Achillea millefolium ‘Sunny Seduction’ (info)

BUTTERFLY BUSH
– Buddleia ‘Flutterby Petite Blue Heaven’ (info)

PERENNIAL SAGE
– Salvia nemorosa ‘Sensation Sky Blue’ (info)

THREADLEAF TICKSEED
– Coreopsis verticillata ‘Moonbeam’ (info)

Looking for more information about how to select a location for these plants, which butterflies they attract or want to DIY your own Butterfly Garden? -> see the Butterfly Gardens section of our Resources Page and the

FEATURE: Butterfly Gardens

Butterfly gardening provides a garden space that attracts, feeds and provides a home for butterflies and certain moths.  Butterfly garden plants are selected for all stages of the butterfly’s lifecycle – places to lay eggs, leafy food for caterpillars, flowers for adult butterflies as well as complimentary plants to attract other pollinators and deter unwanted pests.  Because many caterpillars and adult butterflies are obligate feeders, meaning they feed exclusively on one plant species, special care must be taken when selecting plants to provide for specific butterflies.

for example – the Monarch Butterfly’s caterpillar is an obligate feeder, and can only feed on milkweed, the adult also prefers to lay her eggs near milkweed to provide the larva with a food source after hatching

finding the best LOCATION
for your Butterfly Garden

The ideal spot for a Butterfly Garden is in warm, direct afternoon sunlight.  Keep in mind, as the sun changes seasonal positions along the horizon, the light and shade patterns in your garden will change.  Select a section of your garden that is sunlight between 3pm and 7pm during the butterflies’ most active season – July to September, here in Southern Ontario.  Dappled morning shade gives relief to caterpillars while bright afternoon sunlight encourages flowers and provides warmth for cold-blooded butterflies sunning themselves.  Most butterfly garden plants listed by Garddwest would do best in sunny, mixed soils but tolerant of a wide range of conditions.

TRY THIS: tracking the sun’s path through your potential garden space
Collect marking flags, sticks, any kind of indicator / Find the area of your garden that gets most afternoon sun / Mark the edge of the sun’s shadow every 15 minutes as it moves through your yard by inserting a flag in the ground

attracting BUTTERFLIES
to your Butterfly Garden

BUTTERFLY MILKWEED

Attracts: Eastern Comma, Eastern Tiger Swallowtail, Least Skipper, Tawny-edged Skipper, Milkweed Tussock Moth, Snowberry Clearwing Moth
*Host plant for: MONARCH!

YARROW

Attracts: American Painter Lady, Gray Hairstreak

PERENNIAL SAGE

Attracts: Cabbage White, Fiery Skipper, Sachem, Silver-Spotted Skipper, Zabulon Skipper

* information on which butterflies are attracted to specific plants provided by Advice From The Herb Lady and The Natural Web.

choosing the best PLANTS
for your Butterfly Garden

see the more detailed PLANT LIST post, for additional information

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BOOK REVIEW: the naturescaping workbook

naturescaping workbookBeth O’Donnell Young‘s Naturescaping Workbook is an invaluable resource when planning a natural backyard oasis.  I recently borrowed a copy from the library, and made a few notes about plants that feed Butterflies, Moths, Caterpillars and Beneficials (see below).  Make sure to get your own copy of The Naturescaping Workbook from your library or independent bookstore to read in more detail, how to support nature in your backyard with the plants I’ve noted here!

TREES

Betula (Birch)
Cornus (Dogwood)
Fraxinus (Ash)
Malus (Crabapple)
Populus (Cottonwood, Poplar)
Prunus (Cherry, Plum)
Quercus (Oak)
Salix (Willow)

SHRUBS

Cephalanthus (Buttonbush)
Lavandula (Lavender)
Ribes (Currant)
Syringa (Lilac)
Vaccinium (Blueberry)
Viburnum (Various)
Yucca (Adam’s Needle)

PERENNIALS

Asclepias (Milkweed)
Aster (Aster)
Echinacea (Coneflower)
Eupatorium (Joe Pye Weed)
Monarda (Bee Balm)
Rudbeckia (Black-Eyed Susan)
Sedum (Stonecrop)
Veronica (Speedwell)