What a wonderful sight, a garden or forest path abundant with different types of dancing butterflies. Sadly the last 20 - 30 years led to a huge decrease in the population of butterflies, mainly because of loss of habitat.


Different types of butterfly require different habitat from boggy marshland to forest paths to mountainside. We don't need to be living in the countryside to enjoy butterflies even in our urban gardens we can all attract many different species of butterflies.


Some conscious planting, and creating a little wildness will go a long way, increasing the local butterfly population dramatically.


Its actually possible for an average European garden to attract as many as 20 different types of butterflies!. In the city we can also make things a little more attractive for these beautiful insects, find some window plants that are butterfly friendly or go one step further and add some window boxes/hanging baskets.


Transform the garden into a butterfly paradise

Its not such a difficult task attracting butterflies into the garden or back yard one doesn't even need a great deal of space.


There are 3 things that butterflies need..

1. Warmth, (a sunny place)

2. Shelter,  (shrubs and trees)

3. Nectar,  (butterfly friendly plants) 


Butterflies like warmth.

Choose sunny locations when planting butterfly attracting plants and go for a wide variety of plants to attract many different butterfly species.

Prolong the flowering of plants by dead-heading often, feeding the plants organic compost, and watering well. Plants that are well watered will produce much more flowers than plants that are neglected.


Don't ever use insecticides and pesticides, they kill butterflies, bees and ladybirds!


Butterfly Friendly Planting.

By far the best and long time favourite plant for butterflies is the Buddleia Davidii. Different Varieties are available with blooms in pink, lilac, white and perhaps the colour that holds the most nectar, dark purple (Buddleia davidii, Black Knight). Buddleia is very easy to grow in almost any soil, and it grows fast, and produces wonderfully scented flowers.


Buddleia is can attract up to 18 different types of butterfly species:

Brimstone, Comma, Common Blue, Gatekeeper, Green veined white, Holly Blue, Large Skipper, Large White, Meadow Brown, Painted Lady, Peacock, Red Admiral, Small Copper, Small Skipper, Small Tortoiseshell, Small White, Speckled Wood, Wall Brown.

Finest Plants to attract butterflies

  • Lavender                                  
  • Mint                                     
  • Oregano and Marjoram          
  • Perenial Wallflowers              
  • Cosmos                                  
  • Bramble                              
  • Hebe                                    
  • Honesty                               
  • Phlox                               
  • Forget me Knot                  
  • Primrose                              
  • Dahlia                                   
  • Heather                                                                                                   
  • Chives                                    
  • Thyme                                
  • Dandelion                        
  • Primrose
  • Pinks
  • Clover
  • Marguerite
  • Pot Marigold
  • Lilac
  • Cornflower
  • Busy Lizzie
  • Bluebell
  • Feverfew
  • Viola
  • Buttercups
  • Nettle
  • Hyssop
  • Rock Rose
  • Honeysuckle
  • Daisy
  • Petunia 

No Garden, no problem, window boxes, or patio pots in the yard or on a balcony provide food and shelter for butterflies.The following list of plants all grow well in pots or window boxes:

  • Nasturtium
  • Chives
  • Lavender
  • Primulas
  • Thyme
  • Hebe
  • Buddleia is also fine in a pot providing the pot is 60cm or more across. and its given a feed regularly.

Leave a little wild:

Leaving a corner of the garden to transform into a miniature jungle 

may raise an eyebrow from the neighbours, but plants such as nettle, bramble, thistle and ivy provide food and shelter and a quiet undisturbed place for the transformation of caterpillar to butterfly!. Leaving a corner wild in the garden is working with the laws of nature. More pollinating insects means more flowers and healthier plants.


Peter Carvello

February 2024