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How can I attract butterflies to my small garden? What flower plants are ideal for attracting them?

Details:

  • Garden is in a fenced backyard, faces North-East.
  • Not shaded, gets sunlight from about 10 am to 2 pm.
  • Roughly a 200 square foot place.
  • Region: Pune, Maharashtra, India.
  • Normal weather: 32-34o C, humidity around 55-60%.

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I think it is always best when designing a butterfly garden to start with the butterflies. Make a list of the butterflies that are native to your area, and then it is relatively easy to come up with a list of host plants to support them. There are two types of host plants that you are concerned about: the plants that the eggs are laid on and the caterpillars eat, and the plants that provide nectar for the adult butterflies.

I'm not familiar with butterflies on Pune, but found this article about a butterfly garden there: http://www.dnaindia.com/blogs/post-the-little-known-butterfly-garden-of-pune-2000176

They list 4 types of butterflies they commonly find in the garden. I'm sure there are more that you'll be able to find, but this is a start. I'll put the host plants in parenthesis after.

  • Plain Tigers (Milkweeds (Asclepias - for both larva and adults)
  • Eggfly (Larval plants: Fleuria interrupta, Sida rhombiflolia, Elatostemma cuneatum, Portulaca oleracea, Laportea interrupta, Triumfetta pentandra, and Asystasia. Nectar Plants: Urtica dioica, Malva.)
  • Pierotts (Larval plants: Kalanchoe lacinata, K pinnata, and Crassulaceae. Nectar Plants: Kalanchoe, lichens)
  • Common Jezebels (Larval Plants: Loranthus trees, Malvaceae. Adults also need small shrubs on which to rest)

I'm not certain which of these plants are suitable for your garden. I recognize Kalanchoe, which are sold where I live as a decorative houseplant and would be a beautiful garden addition. Crassulaceae is listed in the butterfly information as a common garden plant, as well. The others you'll need to decide on.

Good luck!

8

Buddleja davidii

What's ideal in central Europe is the "Buddleja davidii".

Butterflies

Buddleja davidii (spelling variant Buddleia davidii), also called summer lilac, butterfly-bush, or orange eye, is a species of flowering plant in the family Scrophulariaceae, native to Sichuan and Hubei provinces in central China, and also Japan.1 It is widely used as an ornamental plant, and many named varieties are in cultivation.

They are an ideal nectar source for many butterflies. As already stated it's even called the "butterfly-bush".

Buddleja davidii cultivars are much appreciated worldwide as ornamentals and for the value of their flowers as a nectar source for many species of butterfly, though the species and cultivars are not able to survive the harsh winters of northern or montane climates, being killed by temperatures below about −15 to −20 °C (5 to −4 °F).

However, I don't know if it's suitable for your region. I believe (!) that it's a very uncomplicated plant due to the fact that it was imported from China long time ago.

From Wikipedia

Bush

Butterfly Garden Collection

There's a great flower collection called "Ann and O.J. Weber Butterfly Garden". It states nearly all suitable plants to attract more butterflies. It's also possible to narrow the search (left side in the page) to filter it by region, height etc.

Host Plants

You may also consider to use some "host plants" like described on "Gardens With Wings".

By including both host plants and nectar plants in your garden, you can attract a wider selection of butterflies while providing an environment that supports their entire life cycle.

List of host plants:

Flowers: Aster (Aster spp.) Black-Eyed Susan (Rudbeckia hirta) Butterfly Milkweed (Asclepias tuberosa) Common Milkweed (Asclepias syriaca) Coneflowers (Echinacea purpurea) False Nettle (Boehmeria cylindrica) Hollyhock (Alcea rosea) Indian Paintbrush (Castilleja spp.) Mallow (Malva spp.) Nasturtium (Tropaeolum majus) Pussy-toe (Antennaria plantaginifolia) Rue (Ruta graveolens) Ruellia (Ruellia spp.) Shasta Daisy (Leucanthemum spp.) Silver Brocade (Artemisia stellariana) Snapdragon (Antirrhinum majus) Spider flower (Cleome hasslerana) Sunflower (Helianthus spp.) Swamp Milkweed (Asclepias incarnata) Swamp Verbena (Verbena hastata) Tall Verbena (Verbena bonariensis) Violet (Viola spp. ) Water Dock (Rumex verticillatus) Wild Senna (Senna hebecarpa) Woodland Stonecrop (Sedum ternatum)

Herbs: Dill (Antheum graveolens) Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare) Parsley (Petroselinum crispum)

Grasses: Little Bluestem Grass (Schizachyrium scoparium) Orchard Grass (Dactylis glomerata ) Panic Grass (Panicum spp.)

Shrubs: Coontie (Zamia pumila) False Indigo (Baptisia australis) Spicebush (Lindera benzoin )

Vines: Passion Flowers (Passiflora spp.) Pipevine (Aristolochia macrophylla)

Trees: Aspen Tree (Populus spp.) Common HopTree (Ptelea trifoliata) Elm Tree (Ulmus spp. ) Flowering Dogwood (Cornus) Pawpaw (Asimina triloba) Prickly Ash (Zanthoxylum americanum) Sassafras (Sassafras albidum) Sweet Bay (Magnolia virginiana) Willow (Salix)

  • 1
    This bush is really hardy too, it'll grow anywhere. On my walk into work it's come up through the space in the pavement even. – Aravona Dec 7 '15 at 7:56
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    It does attract the butterflies. In my area, they can be killed by a harsh winter, but are nevertheless on the list of invasives, because they've naturalised all over the place. – J. Musser Dec 7 '15 at 11:55
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    I am opposed to the recommendation of Buddleja for Butterfly gardens in general as it is an invasive species in many parts of the world because it crowds out native vegetation so rapidly in so many places. And while it's a good nectar source, if you're going to try to attract butterflies you really should favor host plants that at least some native butterflies can actually lay eggs on. – GardenerJ Dec 8 '15 at 11:55

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