Grow a Butterfly Garden

The Abundant Garden: Growing Quality Kids Through Gardening by

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Grow a butterfly garden: an activity for children of all ages. There are many benefits to growing a butterfly garden. Not only are you able to enjoy a garden alive with color and beauty, but you are also creating a sanctuary where butterflies can grow and multiply. Growing a butterfly garden will connect children with nature as they contribute in helping the butterfly population thrive.

  • Supplies:
    • nectar plants (such as the butterfly bush, honeysuckle, lilacs, lantana, day-lilies, lupines, and lavender)
    • caterpillar food plants (such as milkweed)
    • gardening supplies (such as gardening gloves, tools, compost, etc)
  • Read the following book(s) for more tips and details on how to design a butterfly garden: Design Your Own Butterfly Garden by Susan Sales Harkins or Super Simple Butterfly Gardens: A Kid’s Guide to Gardening by Alex Kuskowski  (both recommended for children ages 7-10), or Butterflies in the Garden by Carol Lerner (recommended for children ages 5-8).
  • Read the book On Meadowview Street by Henry Cole (highly recommended for children ages 4-8).
  • Research what butterflies are common to your area and what plants attract these butterflies by visiting a local butterfly garden or by using a field guide such as Butterflies of North America by Jim P. Brock (a great children’s field guide highly recommended for children ages 9 and up).
  • Make a list of desired flowers, herbs, shrubs and trees, remembering to choose plants that bloom at different times. This will help keep the butterflies cared for and protected throughout the seasons. Also, consider perennial vs annual in your decision.
  • Based on your research, design your butterfly garden. Consider plant diversity for shelter and a variety in nectar and food (shrubs, trees, flowers, and vines). Allow space for water and sun. Think about growing a sunflower house (fun for kids and butterflies!).
  • Buy and sow the seeds and/or plants as directed. If needed, refer to the “Planting Seedlings” activity.
  • Maintain your garden by keeping it fed, watered, and free of weeds and pests. Keep it pesticide free by using native plants and attracting ladybugs. (More on how to invite ladybugs into your garden coming in June.)
  • Enjoy watching the butterflies grow and bloom!