Butterfly Garden Resources

This page is continuously updated to bring you the best butterfly garden resources available to make your monarch oasis a fly-away success!

Butterfly Gardening Resources

Tips, Tools, and Resources to Help make your Butterfly Garden a Fly-away Success.

Sometimes creating a butterfly garden can seem like an overwhelming task when you don’t know where to turn for resources and supplies. Over the past few years I’ve come across some amazing products and services that have helped me in my pursuit of butterfly garden excellence. As Oprah likes to say, “when you know better…you do better!”

These butterfly garden resources are some of the tools that can help you achieve greater success with your butterfly garden.

 

Garden Tools

These are the garden tools that make your gardening tasks easier, safer, more efficient, and ultimately more enjoyable:

Atlas gloves for butterfly gardening

Showa Atlas Garden Gloves on Amazon

I personally use these and they are my favorite gardening gloves because they’re thin and they dry out fast. Buy 4 or more pairs for best pricing.

Collapsible Garden Wagon with No Assembly Required is a gardeners dream for plant sales and hauling precious plants around the garden.

Click Here to find your Utility Garden Wagon

Collapsible garden wagons comes in a wide variety of colors and are an excellent garden tool for moving plants and other garden supplies around your yard. It also comes in handy for plant sales. The tires are rubber so you’ll never go flat.

To add a second wagon shelf to place cardboard boxes with more plants, measure your wagon from front to back and then space out 4-6 bungee cords with hooks across the metal frame.

Hand Pruning Shears

Every gardener needs a good set of pruning shears for plant care (or to take stem cuttings) throughout the year. There are lots of 4-5 star consumer rated pruning shears to choose from.

Plant Support Clips

Use these handy clips with stakes to keep tall plant stalks from flopping over, allowing you to better see butterfly visitors in the garden. We use these on our liatris plants.

 

Organic Pest Control

Many gardeners are shocked to find that rabbits love munching on their butterfly garden plants...including milkweed! Here's what completely eliminated our rabbit problem last season...
Stealing your Butterfly Garden Goodies?

It’s frustrating when you put so much hard work into the garden only to have it decimated by destructive pests. Most small insects are tolerable, but rabbits and deer can take the destruction to a whole new level…did I mention they both eat milkweed?!

Add Galvanized Fencing to Keep Out Pesky Rabbits

A one-and-done solution for keeping out those pesky rabbits. Galvanized steel is also resistant to rusting.

Unfortunately, the use of pesticides poses a significant threat to our beloved pollinators. Some pesticides, particularly certain insecticides, can harm butterflies, bees and other beneficial insects when they come into contact with treated plants or contaminated pollen and nectar. This can lead to reduced pollinator populations and disrupt the delicate balance of our ecosystem. More Info Here:

Consumer Notice on Harmful Pesticides to avoid

 

Butterfly Gardening Books

When I started this website, I was surprised to find there weren’t any books about creating a butterfly garden specifically for attracting and supporting monarchs. So, I gathered all the monarch-specific gardening info I could find and created this helpful butterfly garden resource:

Bring Home the Butterflies ebook- How to Attract More Monarchs to your Butterfly Garden


How to Attract More Monarchs to your Butterfly Garden…and Keep Them There!

In Bring Home The Butterflies Volume I, I reveal 8 butterfly garden tips that have brought us more monarchs than I ever though possible. 2019 Updated Links and Resources

Other Resource Pages

Butterfly Plants

Find nectar plants and host plants (besides milkweed) for your butterfly garden.

Milkweed Plants

There are many varieties of milkweed you can plant to attract monarchs. Check out 25+ garden variety options.

Raising Monarch Butterflies

A natural extension of gardening to attract monarchs is raising monarchs to release in your butterfly garden. It’s an amazing and awe inspiring activity that you can experience inside your home, or in a 3-season porch!

Western Monarch Butterfly Resources

Get first hand gardening tips and planting info from experts in your region.

Choosing The Best Butterfly Garden Plants?

A couple things to consider for choosing the best plants to attract wildlife.

 

Container Gardening

Container Gardening allows you to break up your garden and put pots in places that are more convenient like on a patio or the edge of a raised bed. You can also raise monarch caterpillars on potted plants.

Pots,Planters & Containers…Oh My!

Choose from a variety of attractive and functional planters to make a statement in your garden. Container plants also give you the option to rearrange your garden during the season.

Organic Coconut Coir- Peat Moss Alternative

Coco Coir is a multipurpose growing media alternative to using peat moss, sphagnum moss, or rock wool. It has a high water holding/retention capacity and high air filled porosity that extends your soil supply. Coconut coir is beneficial for plants and earthworms, without harming the environment. Mix this in with all-purpose potting soil.

All Purpose Potting Soil

We’ve used many potting soils over the years and they’ve all worked pretty well. There are many good soil options at local nurseries and big box stores.

 

Fertilizers and Compost

The nutrients your milkweed and butterfly plants will need to truly thrive…

Garden Compost

Improve the soil quality in your garden by adding pre-mixed compost or make your own with a composting bin.

Beginner’s Guide To Making Great Compost & Compost Bins

Organic Fertilizer

Organic fish and seaweed fertilizer for strong foliage and colorful blooms- helpful butterfly garden resources

This year we’re using a combination fish/seaweed fertilizer by Neptune to promote healthy foliage and flowering. I was apprehensive about the potential fish-smell, but the subtle odor dissipates quickly after being applied.

Water Soluble All Purpose Fertilizer

Water Soluble all purpose fertilizer is recommended for annuals and first-year perennials to insure plants aren’t stressed out or killed from receiving nutrients too quickly. Start with half the recommended dose and increase later if needed.

Slow Release Pellets

Some gardeners also use an all-purpose slow release fertilizer that continuously feeds plants nutrients throughout the season. The advantage to continuous, slow-release plant food is that you don’t have to apply it on a weekly basis. This option is best for established perennials

Is fertilizer harmful to caterpillars? ?☠️

Over the years we’ve had zero issues with fertilizer making caterpillars sick, and I’ve never heard of any issues from our community for both organic fertilizer and non. We have often used fertilized leaf or stem cuttings (from the garden) to feed caterpillars in our porch and they have continued to thrive.

We typically use half doses of the water soluble fertilizer recommended for plants across our yard and garden and have had great success with plant health and attracting pollinators to our back yard haven.

Over the years we’ve had zero issues with fertilizer making caterpillars sick, and I’ve never heard of any issues from our community for both organic fertilizer and non.

Vertical Gardening

Vertical Gardening takes your butterfly garden to new heights, maximizing your available space. Arbors and trellises are popular structures for vertical gardens, but you can also start by using a fence.

Resources for Arbors and Garden Trellises

Beautiful Garden Arbors

A variety of stylish, high-quality arbors for unwavering butterfly vine support. Most of these include free shipping, as do the trellises below.

High Quality Garden Trellises

We utilize 3 trellises in our garden to extend our garden borders north. Choose from a large assortment of quality garden trellises at affordable prices.

Vertical Garden Planters

Hang these convenient planters directly on your fence, patio, or balcony. Are there plants you don’t grow because of rabbits? These planters make Bugs & friends a non-issue!

 

Misting & Watering

Water is an essential component of butterfly garden success…and in more ways than you might think. Of course, you need water for healthy butterfly garden plants. But water is also a resource that can help you attract and sustain more butterflies.

Fogging mister system for hot butterflies
Butterfly Relief

Butterflies love to keep cool during the dog days of summer…so do birds and people! In the hottest summer months the butterflies follow me around the yard when I spray down plants. They actually go through the sprinkler! Since it’s wasteful to water during the day (much of the water evaporates because of the hot sun) I had an idea.

A misting system only uses a fraction of the water a sprinkler does. It can cool down butterflies, your pets, and you without getting everyone sopping wet. The 25 foot system should suffice if you are doing this for just the butterflies.

Rain Barrel for Extra Water Source

A rain barrel makes a fine addition to the butterfly garden and can add beauty along with an extra water source to keep your plants happy. You can find a much wider selection of these online than you can locally. Many rain barrels are affordably prices with free shipping to your home.

 
Plant Propagation tools can help you get a jump start on spring by successfully starting plants indoors from seeds or stem cuttings:
 

Grow Plants From Seeds

Starting seeds indoors is good for the soul…and your bank account! I start seeds for plants that aren’t readily available in our region and also for plants that need more time to reach full maturity.

CFL Daylight Bulb- butterfly garden resource for overwintering plants
Grow Light Alternative

Seed Starting Kits

A good seed starting kit provides all the tools you will need to get your seeds to start growing for the new season.

Heated Seedling Mat

Once I introduced this to the seed-starting process, our seeds sprouted faster and it also increased the germination rate…a must-have for more efficient seed starting.

Small Plant Pots

Once your seeds have sprouted, 4″ nursery pots are the perfect size to grow your seedlings until you move them outside. Then, wash them out and reuse next season…

5 oz. translucent cups

A disposable alternative to the nursery pots listed above. Make 3 small drainage holes in the bottom of each cup.

Seed Starter Soil

It’s important to use a soil that holds moisture and contains small enough particles so that root growth is not impeded.

Mini Greenhouse with Plant Shelves

Mini Greenhouse with Shelves for Starting Butterfly Plants Indoors, in the garage, or outside.

A convenient way to give your plants the humid environment they need to grow and the shelves give you more space for plants.

T5 Grow Light System

This is the type of light your seedlings need to grow and thrive when they’re growing inside in the dead of winter.

CFL Grow Light Bulbs

Compact fluorescent grow lights are an easy lighting solution for most because many of these lights fit in standard home sockets. For more powerful lights, there are socket adapters or the T5 lights listed above. These are a great option for overwintering mature plants.

Clip Oscillating Fan for Strong Seedlings

Seedlings tend to grow tall, spindly and can easily break. You can strengthen yours by keeping a light breeze on them similar to what they’d experience outdoors. Clip on fans are a good option because you can attach them to shelving, furniture, or just place them on a table near your plants.

Organza Bags for Milkweed Seeds

Tie organza bags around your milkweed pods before they burst open so your seeds don't blow away before harvest. They also make attractive gift bags for sharing your seeds. Find seed-saving organza bags and other helpful resources for your butterfly garden...
Harvest Helper

Tie these small bags around milkweed pods in the fall so seeds don’t blow away before you can harvest them. These attractive seed savers also make excellent gift bags for milkweed seed gifts.

 

Grow Plants From Cuttings

Starting new plants with cuttings has two main advantages. Cuttings grow faster than seedlings and they are much sturdier when you plant them outside in spring. Cuttings are an excellent way to start tropical milkweed plants.

You can check out my step-by-step process for rooting milkweed cuttings here.

Once your cuttings have rooted, use the same plant pot and lighting resources listed above in the seed starting section.
 

Butterfly Garden Signs, Banners, and Flags

Once you’ve got your garden planted, it’s time to put some personal touches on it that make it decidedly yours…and the butterflies! Butterfly Signs and flags are emerging in popularity and there are many to choose from to fit your personal garden style.

Monarch Butterfly Spinner for Butterfly Garden- Birthday Gift Idea

This holographic butterfly spinner is actually in our garden. I love when it blows in the wind because the monarch butterfly appears to be flying. I’ve actually seen monarchs flying by the sign before and one even landed on it. Do they actually recognize it as a butterfly??

Find Iron Butterfly Spinners Here

Personalized memorial garden stones- butterfly garden resources for a memorial garden.

Many butterfly gardens are created as lasting tributes to someone special that is no longer with us including parents, military members who made the ultimate sacrifice, and children that have left this earth far too soon.

Memorial butterfly garden stones are a beautiful way to make a special tribute to the person or pet that inspired your garden:

Personalized Memorial Stones with a Butterfly Theme

More Memorial Stone Ideas for a Butterfly Garden

 

Local Butterfly Gardening Resources

Find local butterfly garden resources in your US State or Canadian Province:

Minnesota Butterfly Garden Resources

Do you know other butterfly gardeners who could use these helpful resources? Share this page:

Share the Joy of Butterflies

26 Comments

  1. Hello…i live in Ontario, Canada (north of Toronto) and i’m wondering if i could grow Common Milkwee perennials in a whisky barrel. just wondering if they would survive the winters…

  2. I just started a butterfly garden! I want to now add some milkweed plants. In Michigan on our way to the beach I found some common milkweed along the road. Can I plant this in the garden or should I stick with store bought milkweed?

    Thank you so much for any help you can give!

    1. Hi Shaun, since many states are trying to expand monarch habitat, it’s typically best to leave wild milkweed where it’s growing and gather seeds from plants, or plant your own seeds/plants you can source from local nurseries or from online vendors

  3. Hi Tony,
    I’m new to your site.. Great pages!!

    Two years ago, I was able to raise and release 14 Monarchs. My very first attempt at this. Beginners luck I guess. Last summer was a bust – Only saw two butterflies all season.
    This year has been a bit better; with four sightings. The latest being this morning with one lone butterfly scouting out the Milkweed. It hung around around for almost two hours, going from plant to plant and I thought; YES! this is it… Eggs in my basket!! I waited a few hours for the eggs to dry before checking the plants that were visited; but sadly, I did not find one egg.

    At this point, I am not cultivating or planting Milkweed. It just sprouts up in my yard every year and I play it as it comes. At 68 years old and still working a full time job; makes it tough for doing any extra gardening work. I’ll keep trying to do what I can…

  4. what are the bugs on my milkweed leaves? they are red and black spotted about 1/4″ long
    and look almost like ladybugs…but longer and fewer spots!

  5. My garden—essentially the entire back yard—is too big to surround with rabbit fencing. Fortunately, rabbits are creatures of habit, especially when chased by the neighbor’s dog. The spot in the fence where they came into my yard was a well-worn path, so I put a live trap there and let the dog chase them in. Didn’t have a problem with rabbits eating dandelions until one day they mowed down a clump of New England Asters. Now momma and baby rabbit live far away from my garden.

    1. Hi Steve, we actually put rabbit fencing around the bottom of our entire back yard fence. I always thought it was too much effort until I saw the results. Now I wish we would have done it years ago!

      I still see rabbits at the edge of the fencing because there is clover growing up against it…I’m hoping that will satisfy their hunger and stop them from getting any digging ideas!

      I’m glad your trap worked and hopefully they found a new home far, far away…

  6. Hi.. I have recently planted some tropical milkweed and have slowly been planting butterfly and bee plants throughout my garden. It looks like my milkweed is just about ready to start blooming so I’m anxious to see what it will be attracting. Anyway, once per month, I make a homemade fertilizer/snail killer concoction and spray my entire yard that consists of Epsom Salts, Dish Washing Liquid, Mouth Wash and Ammonia. My plants love this but now I am worried about killing the catz. What is your opinion?

    1. Hi Stefanie, that’s one homemade concoction I’m not familiar with. I don’t know if your mixture would have any negative affects on caterpillar health. You could try testing it out on a milkweed plant or just avoid using it on milkweed. good luck!

      1. Thank you. I did a little more digging and I’m going to start omitting the Ammonia and I will make sure to aim the mix at the dirt more than the plants.

  7. You mention organic pesticide for milkweed plants- wouldn’t that be harmful to monarch caterpillars?

    1. Hi Diane, I use insecticidal soap when I overwinter milkweed plants indoors (if necessary). The only time I would consider using this outside is if there was an extreme aphid infestation. Otherwise, there are better “long term” solutions that are safer for the monarchs and your local ecosystem:

      Stop Aphids from Taking Over your Milkweed

  8. Hi, I didn’t seem to find anything here about breeding Monarchs in netted houses. Could you write something about that?

    My plan was to buy such a house next year, fill it with milkweed and nectar flowers and then purchase the caterpillars as we don’t have many Monarchs in this area. I would purchase them at an appropriate time as early as possible (I am not sure when that is. I am in the 43rd latitude at about 1,000 feet elevation) and let them go through their breeding stages until it is time for them to fly south. I am not sure if this is good though because they are migrators and by raising them in captivity I am preventing this cycle. What do you think?

    Thanks, Anna

  9. Hi Tony,
    One big mistake I made last Fall was planting milkweed & nectar seeds then putting some straw over them to keep from blowing around. This Spring was shocked to see rye growing everywhere. Asked local master gardeners & they said best not to use straw as seed cover never know what could be in it but fine to use it around full size plants. Pulled out all the rye & replaced it with some grown plants. Fortunately, have tropical milkweed in containers for caterpillars that I’ve purchased online. Haven’t seen any monarchs here in western NC, yet.

    1. Hi Sharen, that’s interesting about the rye….what an unpleasant surprise. We typically mulch with fall leaves. Hope you see some monarchs soon!

  10. I have the same problems with the rabbits. They have been eating my swamp milkweed and common milkweed that I just planted this year so they are smaller. Also my sunflowers . Live in northers Illinois and have not seen many butterflies. Found a few cats and ordered some online.

    1. I feel your pain Judy…we gave up on sunflowers after last season. Once the rabbit fencing is up, I am going to try again!

  11. Hi, we live on the river in Mobile Bay Alabama. My neighbors and I want to create a Monarch Butterfly Garden to help them populate. We have a large area of land however we want to start with a small area and “grow” from there.. what would be your first suggestion and what plants should we start with … my head is spinning from all the literature I have been reading.. and all the “advice” I have received from landscaping companies trying to sell me their brand of flowers.. all I know is I want to make a positive difference in the population of the Monarch Butterfly and learn more about them in the process. Can you give me a “starting point” possibly 5 different important species of plants that will attract them and allow them to migrate and procreate. thank you! Erna

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