Perhaps one of the most relaxing things to do is sit and enjoy a serene, colorful outdoor space that pops with blooms and greenery and maybe even the sounds of flowing water. Add to that the flutters of bright, bounding butterflies and even the most urban landscapes can be transformed into your only little taste of the countryside. And luring butterflies is actually fairly easy in Texas. Texas has more species of the beautiful creatures than any other state due to a long growing season and large assortment of native, adaptable plants that do well in this climate.
Here’s what you’ll need to create your very own Texas butterfly garden:
- Start with a warm and sunny gardening area. Butterflies are cold-blooded and like to bask in the sun to raise their body temperature. A sunny garden with plenty of flowers and flat stones where the butterflies can land and bask laid among the blooms will attract them.
- They also like some protection from the sun when they rest. Shrubs, small trees and vines will help to protect them from the elements.
- Since butterflies don’t like heavy winds, create windbreaks with a fence or by planting ornamental grasses and tall plants
- Keep soil damp — butterflies suck water from the moist ground. You can also bury a saucer in the ground, add soil and soak it with water. Put a flat stone right next to it so the butterflies will have a place to perch and drink
- Butterflies like nectar plants for food. They are attracted to bright flowers. Size, shape, smell and marking on petals help the butterflies to find the nectar. Plant masses of flowering plants together to attract butterflies
- Female butterflies will lay eggs in gardens with larval food plants. Caterpillars will hatch and look for a safe place to cocoon and soon you will have a new butterfly. Keep in mind caterpillars will eat the foliage of the food plants, but they will grow back.
- Avoid using pesticides in your butterfly garden.
Nectar plants that will attract butterflies:
Bird of paradise (Caesalpinia gilliesii)
Butterfly weed (asclepias)
Butterfly bush (buddleia)
Mexican flame vine
Pincushion flower (scabiosa)
Sweet autumn clematis
Larval food plants that will attract butterflies:
Althea — gray hairstreak
Butterfly weed – monarch
Canna – Brazilian skipper (canna leafroller)
Clover – sulphur
Dogwood – spring azure
Esperanza (Tecoma stans) – gray hairstreak
Frogfruit – buckeye
Mock orange – tiger swallowtail
Parsley hawthorn – gray hairstreak
Texas lantana – painted lady
Passionflower vine – Gulf fritillary, Julia
Paw paw – zebra swallowtail
Queen Anne’s lace – Eastern black swallowtail
Redbud – Henry’s elfin
Ruellia – buckeye, Cuban crescent spot
Shrimp plant – Texan crescentspot
Spicebush – spicebush swallowtail, tiger swallowtail
Wisteria – silver-spotted skipper