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How to Attract Butterflies to Your Garden (Australian Guide)

Who doesn’t love to see butterflies around their garden? Not only are butterflies enjoyable to watch but they also help to pollinate plants and are a positive sign that you’ve established a healthy ecosystem.

I remember just recently I took a walk through a natural bushland area near my home and was thrilled with all the butterflies that lived there. They would happily flit along in front of me as I enjoyed the lovely sunshine and their antics.

This bushland area was filled with banksias, young grass trees and flowering tea trees. 

Visiting an area of natural bushland around your home where butterflies gather, will give you some idea of the native species that you should be growing if you want to attract butterflies.

Butterfly 1 | Wildlife

Here are some tips on how you can attract butterflies to your garden.

Identify the species of butterflies endemic to your area

The first thing you want to do, is some research on the different butterfly species that are endemic to where you live. These will be the easiest to attract to your garden.

Butterfly 2 | Wildlife

Once you know which species of butterflies you’re likely to attract, learn which plants they’re going to be attracted by. This will involve understanding the plant species that the caterpillars like to feed on.

Fill your garden with butterfly-friendly plants

In general, our native butterfly species prefer native plants. However, they will also be tempted by a few exotic flowers as well.

Some common native flowering plants that butterflies like are our native Hardenbergia violacea and various species in the Goodenia genus such as Goodenia ovata. These plants have nectar-rich flowers that butterflies love.

Hardenbergia violacea | Wildlife

It’s also a great idea to plant a variety of native grasses such as Kangaroo grass, as these will provide food for the caterpillars that will eventually turn into butterflies.

Non-native plants that butterflies love include Buddleija, salvia, verbena, daisies (both native and exotic) and many different flowering herbs.

When deciding what to plant to attract butterflies, make sure that you plant more than one of each species. Take my example of the native bushland area near my home. 

Butterflies like to flit from flower to flower to gather nectar and will hang around if you have plenty of flowers on the plants that they really love.

butterfly eating nectar | Wildlife

Give the butterflies somewhere to rest in the sun

Butterflies like to sun themselves as this energises them so that they can happily fly around your flowers and lay their eggs in the grass species you’re growing.

For this reason, it’s a good idea to place some large flat rocks in sunny spots around your garden. 

Add some water to your garden

Butterflies get all the water they need from the nectar that they drink. But, they do like to drink muddy water which provides them with additional nutrients. 

For this, you could find a nice shallow dish, place some sand in the bottom, add a flat rock or two and then a small amount of water.

butterfly in water | Wildlife

Put your water dish in the sun to attract the butterflies. The rocks in the dish will also give the butterflies a spot to sit and enjoy the sunshine.

Avoid using pesticides in your garden

If you want to attract butterflies, you’re going to have to put up with the caterpillars as well. Luckily, most native caterpillars won’t eat your vegetables or other crops that you like to grow.

Most caterpillars that eventually turn into butterflies like to feed on native grasses. That’s why it’s important to also plant these among the flowering plants that will feed the butterflies.

Native caterpillars also like to feed on the leaves of wattles and gum trees. 

To keep the caterpillar population safe, you should avoid using pesticides in your garden. Pesticides will not only kill the annoying pests that may eat your fruits and vegetables but they’ll also kill the caterpillars that will eventually turn into butterflies.

Therefore, if you want to create an ecosystem where butterflies will thrive, you definitely don’t want to use any kinds of pesticides.

Monarch Butterfly | Wildlife

FAQ

What are the best plants for monarch butterflies?

Monarch butterflies are not native to Australia but they were introduced way back in 1871 with the introduction of milkweed. So, if you want to attract monarch butterflies, you’ll need to grow milkweed (Asclepias tuberosa) in your garden as this will feed the caterpillars.

Should you feed butterflies?

You can set up a feeding station for butterflies by providing them with a range of overripe fruit such as pears, bananas, apples and slices of oranges. Butterflies love the fructose in these fruits which is more pronounced when overripe.

Photo of author

Annette Hird

Annette Hird is a gardening expert with many years of experience in a range of gardening related positions. She has an Associate Diploma of Applied Science in Horticulture and has worked in a variety of production nurseries, primarily as a propagator. She has also been responsible for a large homestead garden that included lawn care, fruit trees, roses and many other ornamental plants. More recently, Annette has concentrated on improving the garden landscape of the homes that she has lived in and focused a lot of energy on growing edible plants as well. She now enjoys sharing her experience and knowledge with others by writing articles about all facets of gardening and growing plants.

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