How to Design a Sustainable Butterfly Garden

How to Design a Sustainable Butterfly Garden

Don't you love it when butterflies visit your garden? It's magical. Watching them flutter from flower to flower, searching for nectar, is a beautiful sight. Butterflies aren't just magical creatures; they're also pollinators.

During the last several years, large-scale farming and property development has decimated butterfly habitats. But there’s hope. Property owners can create a butterfly sanctuary in their garden area. Do you want to attract butterflies into your garden? We have some tips to help you create a sustainable butterfly garden.


Entice Butterflies by Creating a Hospitable Environment

You want butterflies to hang around your garden long enough to lay eggs for a new generation. You can create a pleasant environment for them by providing them with the basics. Butterflies with shelter, water, and food will have a greater chance of surviving.


While Monarch butterflies are one of the most popular species, they aren’t native to our region. However, some Monarchs travel 1500 miles or more to make San Diego their overwintering site. But if you want to attract butterflies to your garden, you’ll want to determine which species you want to attract. Fortunately, San Diego County has several indigenous species.

swallowtail butterfly

Indigenous San Diego County Butterflies:


  • Swallowtails (FAMILY PAPILIONIDAE)
  • Whites and Sulphurs (FAMILY PIERIDAE)butterly perched on ground
  • Gossamer-wing (FAMILY LYCAENIDAE)
  • Metalmarks (FAMILY RIODINIDAE)


Food sources:

  • Tree sap
  • Pollen
  • Fallen fruit
  • Overripe fruit like pears, apples, bananas, and peaches
  • Animal dung
  • Sugar water
  • Fruit juice
  • Milkweed foliage (butterfly larvae)
  • Parsley (butterfly larvae)
  • Fennel (butterfly larvae)


TIP: Make a DIY butterfly feeder (an excellent summertime activity for children!)

butterfly on flower


Butterflies need shelter from wind and rain. They'll naturally seek out areas with dense shrubbery or stacked wood.

  • Choose trees and shrubs that protect butterflies, like oak and willow trees, butterfly bush, coneflower (Echinacea), salvia, etc.

Provide water areas:

  • Moist sandy areas
  • Shallow puddles
  • Birdbaths
  • A water-filled saucer

Choose a sunny area for your butterfly garden

  • A spot with at least 6 to 8 hours of sunlight a day is ideal (these cold-blooded creatures prefer to feed when the sun's out)
  • A location where the sunlight hits early (butterflies like to bask in the morning sun)
  • The morning sun warms up their wings and bodies for their flight adventures

Butterflies like to warm up before flight, so we recommend placing materials that can warm up quickly once the morning sun hits your garden. Flat stones, patches of soil, and even pavement pieces are excellent materials to place around your yard.

butterfly on milkweed flowerButterfly-Friendly Plants

When it comes to attracting butterflies to your garden, plant those that provide nectar for both butterflies and caterpillars. Butterflies are attracted to brightly colored plants and those with shallow blossoms make it easier for them to access nectar. You can plant various shrubs, trees, perennials, and annuals. Provide them with flowers of varying heights to attract more butterflies. You can mix them up for great effect!

  • Lantana (nectar-rich!)
  • Milkweed
  • Lilac Verbena
  • Elderberry
  • Red Egyptian Star Flower
  • Marigold
  • Scarlet Blanket Flower
  • Yarrow
  • Sage
  • Coyote bush
  • Bladderpod
  • Zinnias (nectar-rich!)

TIP: Avoid pesticides that harm butterflies. Unfortunately, even organic options like neem oil or insecticidal soap can kill or disrupt butterfly feeding and mating habits. Of course, you don't want aphids taking over your flowers. Instead, try blasting away small insects with jet of water or use floating row covers. You can also hand-pick large insects like beetles off your plants.

Experience Quality Service. The Difference...Is Growing

From irrigation repairs to weed abatement and landscape design, no one does it better than Westturf Landscape Management. We provide a full range of San Diego landscape management services to keep your property attractive and profitable. Call us 760-650-3120 or send us a message.

Let's work together

If you have a creative project in mind or are looking to make your HOA job more manageable, get in contact with Westturf Landscape Management. When it comes to quality efficient landscaping services, we have you covered. We are looking forward to hearing from you.

Westturf Landscape Management
701 Mercantile Street
Vista, CA 92083
Phone: 760-650-3120

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