So, you want to start a butterfly garden? They bring beauty and motion to your garden. Making your garden hospitable is the place to start. You will need three things to make your garden attractive so they will want to make your yard their home.
Food for the adults.
Place for breeding
Plants for the caterpillars
You will want to choose some nectar producing plants that will bloom throughout the summer. The female needs plants to lay her eggs and for the caterpillars to feed on. Annuals are good to plant as they bloom all throughout the summer. You will want to have blooms mid to late summer when the butterflies are most active. Flowers that have multi-blooms are best.
There are some perennials, like coneflowers and astors that are well liked. It is good to plant different plants that bloom at different times of the season. The black swallowtail seems to enjoy parsley and dill herbs. Besides annuals and perennials, there is a bush that they enjoy immensely, called a "butterfly bush" that will definitely, attract a swarm of butterflies. I, always, liked to sit in my gazebo to watch them fluttering around and sipping on nectar, in one of my two bushes that I had and it was guaranteed that they would be there. These are the simple things in life that I appreciate.
Other than the plants that are needed, they, also, need some place away from the wind to shelter their eggs so they won't be disturbed. You can purchase butterfly houses that you put in a woodsy part of your garden. Mourning Cloaks, Angelwings and Tortoiseshells would likely be the ones to use it. Be sure to put the nectar producing plants close by. Painting the outside of the house bright colors may aid in attracting them, also. Sometimes, the house works and sometimes it doesn't.
You will want to supply at least one mud puddle or dampened area in the garden. They seem to gather around the edge of mud puddles. It's not clear as to why they do this, but it may be the moisture or a mineral they may need.
Please, don't use insecticides in your garden if you don't need to. Think about using a natural insecticide that you can purchase or make by yourself. There are many natural insecticide recipes that you can obtain online. Insecticides kill the caterpillars and can kill the adults.
Starting a butterfly garden is simple by making your garden hospitable for them and knowing what will attract them. Simply keeping a small wet area for them and planting a few plants that they'll enjoy is often enough to attract a number of butterflies.