Since butterflies are attracted to both flower colors and shapes, group plants in great masses to provide large splashes of brilliance to draw them instead of isolating a single flower here and there throughout the garden. Sunny days in the garden are synonymous with a busy freeway of flying butterflies. The hot sun warms their wing muscles, enabling them to soar and fly while going about their job of pollinating, so situate the butterfly garden in the warmest, sunniest area. On gusty summer days, they need protection from the wind which is easily provided by arranging tall flowering plants at the back of the border to make it comfortable for the butterflies while they are "nectaring."
For a list of varieties that attract butterflies, click here
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The shiny, fern-like, coppery foliage of "Smokey Bronze" Fennel with its golden umbrella-like flowers is a stunning backdrop for the lower growing plants in the mid- and front border. A long dramatic row of "Torch" Tithonia planted at the back of the border makes a blazing hedge of brilliant orange-red landing pad blossoms, and provides both a convenient perch and windscreen for winged visitors. For the mid-border, air-waltzing butterflies will be attracted to the searing scarlet and orange colors of "Persian Carpet" Zinnias. Charming semi-dwarf "Musicbox" Sunflowers shine at waist height in a full range of bright colors: from cream yellow and deep gold to wonderful bicolors in shades of bronze and mahogany over gold. Plant the front of the border with the restful white fluffy pillows of Alyssum to create a welcoming effect.
These flower selections are excellent choices not only for butterflies, but for gardeners as well, for they are all beautiful long blooming garden flowers through the season. As children are attracted to puddles of water, so are butterflies. A shallow water element in the form of a bird bath, decorative stone water container, or small water garden situated in the ground will serve their needs and add interest to the garden.