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Garden Plan to Attract Butterflies

This guide features regional native plants for the Great Lakes that are highly a ttractive to butterflies and are well-suited to small-scale plantings in gardens, on business and school campuses, in urban greenspaces and farm field borders.

You can have a wonderful experience of intermingling butterflies and flowers by planting a butterfly garden. Here are some basic principles for attracting butterflies.

 Grow Lots of Nectar Plants

The main food of butterflies is nectar. As they gather nectar, they also inadvertently pollinate flowers. Be sure that your garden offers nectaring flowers throughout the blooming season.

Please see Host Versus Nectar Plants for a listing of both the caterplillar host plants and adult butterfly nectar plants for 14 butterflies common to Wisconsin.

 Mass Flowers

When planting flowers, group them together and then they will be more enticing to butterflies. Butterflies usually choose those that are more abundant.

 Choose a Sunny Location

This is extremely important for butterflies. Butterflies need the sun to keep their bodies warm. Butterflies are active only when the temperature is between 75 and 100 degrees Fahrenheit.

 Do NOT Use Pesticides

Pesticides are designed to kill insects. Since butterflies are insects, they are toxic to butterflies. So pesticides that rid your yard of insect pests will also kill your butterflies

Bloom Common Name Scientific Name Color Height Light Soil Moisture
EARLY Columbine Aquilegia canadensis Yellow, Red 3 feet Sunlight requirements icon L,S D,M
Downy Phlox Phlox pilosa Pink 2 feet Sunlight requirements icon L,S D,M,O
Purple Prairie Clover Dalea purpurea Purple 1-2 feet Sunlight requirements icon C,L,S D,M
MID Smooth Phlox Phlox glaberrima Pink, Purple 4 feet Sunlight requirements icon C,L,S M,O
Pale Purple Coneflower Echinacea pallida Purple 5 feet Sunlight requirements icon C,L,S D,M
Sullivants' Milkweed Asclepias sullivantii Pink 5 feet Sunlight requirements icon C,L M
MID-LATE Bergamot Monarda fistulosa Lavender, Blue 5 feet Sunlight requirements icon C,L,S D,M,O
Butterflyweed Asclepias tuberosa Orange 3 feet Sunlight requirements icon C,L D,M
Smooth Ironweed Vernonia fasciculata Red, Purple 6 feet Sunlight requirements icon C,L,S O
Orange Coneflower Echinacea fulgida Yellow, Orange 4 feet Sunlight requirements icon C,L M
Purple Prairie Clover Dalea purpurea Purple 2 feet Sunlight requirements icon C,L,S D,M
Stiff Coreopsis Coreopsis palmata Yellow 3 feet Sunlight requirements icon L,S D,M
LATE Crooked-Stem Aster Aster prenanthoides Blue, Lavender 3 feet Sunlight requirements icon C,L,S M,O
Dense Blazing Star Liatris spicata Pink, Purple 6 feet Sunlight requirements icon C,L,S M,O
Meadow Blazingstar Liatris ligulistylis Pink, Purple 5 feet Sunlight requirements icon L D,M,O
New England Aster Symphyotrichum
novae-angliae
Purple, Pink, Blue 6 feet Sunlight requirements icon C,L,S M,O
Ohio Goldenrod Solidago ohioensis Yellow 4 feet Sunlight requirements icon C,L,S M,O
Prairie Dropseed Sporobolus heterolepis Straw, Gold 4 feet Sunlight requirements icon C,L,S M
Sweet Joe Pye Weed Eupatorium purpureum Pink 6 feet Sunlight requirements icon C,L,S M
Tall Joe Pye Weed Eupatorium fistulosum Pink, Purple 8 feet Sunlight requirements icon C,L,S M,O

SOIL:   L = Loam       C = Clay       S = Sandy       R = Rocky
MOISTURE:   D = Dry       M = Medium       O = Moist       W = Wet 

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