Creating a butterfly garden is anything but new. In fact, there are more resources available via Google on how to make a butterfly garden than the practice of creating a square foot garden. But, what if the garden you are trying to create needs to be limited to container plants?

Those gardeners who live in apartments, lifestyle villages, or who only have space on their rooftops are limited to what they can plant. Everything they grow must be contained in some form of pot rather than in garden soil. So, is it possible to create a butterfly container garden?

Sure, it’s just a matter of choosing the right plants that will (a) survive living in a container, and (b) still entice butterflies.

Keys to growing butterfly plants in containers

  • Select the right container – this is paramount to your success in growing the plants that butterflies like. For example, if you choose to grow Buddleia davidii you will need to source a sizable container to accomodate its growth. Finding pots that won’t dry out fast (which may mean sealing the inside of terracotta containers) is also as important.
  • Choose brightly coloured containers – butterflies aren’t attracted to bright colours for nectar but they are for mating. And there’s nothing like drawing a crowd. So, while your flowers may be a few weeks away from blooming having brightly coloured pots may be the enticement they need.
  • Increase your watering – if you’ve grown many of these plants in your garden beds before then you will quickly notice that they need more water now they’re in containers. The potting medium is far more likely to dry out because of its limited volume so prepare yourself to water every day during the warmer months.
  • Protect your plants from hot winds – if you have a balcony or rooftop garden you’re more likely to experience stronger winds. Butterfly plants being what they are are usually quite heavy bloomers with whispy fragile stems so you may need to protect them from strong cross-winds.

Now that you have your containers already to go, what plants can you put in them to attract butterflies to your garden?

Plants to attract in your butterfly garden

Here’s a short list of some of the plants that you will be able to grow noticing that they all are great bloom producers. Flowers are the main reason a butterfly, like bees, will be attracted to your plants so give them as much as they want.
Not all plants will work in all areas and the butterflies that are native in your region may be more particular about which plants they like to feast on. As your butterflies begin to descend upon your garden, take notice of which plants they’re attracted to and learn from their behaviour.

Aster Callistephus chinensis
Aubrieta Aubrieta deltoidea
Bergamot Monarda fistulosa
Blanket Flower Gaillardia aristata
Blue Vervain Verbena hastata
Bugbane Cimicifuga simplex
Burning Bush Dictamnus albus
Butterfly Bush Buddleia davidii
Butterfly Flower Schizanthus wisetonensis
Butterfly Lily Hedychium coronarium
Butterfly Orchid Oncidium papilio
Butterfly Pea Clitoria ternata
Californian Lilac Ceanothus
Candytuft Iberis amara
Cardinal Flower Lobelia cardinalis
Chives Allium schoenoprasum
Cinquefoil Potentilla fruticosa
Columbine Aquilegia canadensis
Common Milkweed Asclepias syriaca
Coneflower Echinacea purpurea
Dandelion Taraxacum officinale
Dutchman’s Breeches Dicentra cucullaria
English Lavender Lavendula angustifolia
Evening Primrose Oenothera biennis
False Aster Boltonia asteroides
Fennel Foeniculum vulgare

– Suggested by Annie
Field Scabious Knautia arvensis
Forget-me-nots Myosotis
French Marigolds Tagetes patula
Gayfeather Liatris spicata
Geranium Pelargonium
Gloriosa Daisy Rudbeckia hirta
Goat’s Beard Aruncus dioicus
Golden Rod Solidago
Grape Hyacinth Muscari
Harebell Campanula rotundifolia
Heath Aster Aster ericoides
Helen’s Flower Helenium autumnale
Heliotrope Heliotropium arborescens
Hemp Agrimony Eupatorium cannabinum
Honesty Lunaria annua
Hyssop Hyssopus officianalis
Joe Pye Weed Eupatorium maculatum
Lacecap Hydrangea Hydrangea macrophylla
Lanceleaf Coreopsis Coreopsis lanceolata
Lavender Lavandula
Lavender Hyssop Agastache foeniculum
Leadplant Amorpha canescens
Lilac Syringa vulgaris
Lobelia Lobelia erinus
Marjoram Origanum vulgare
Meadow Rose Rosa Blanda
Mexican Orange Blossom Choisya ternata
Passion Flower Passiflora incarnata
Pasture Rose Rosa carolina
Penstemon Penstemon digitalis
Pot Marigold Calendula
Purpletop Verbena Verbena bonariensis

– Suggested by Annie
Raspberries Rubus idaeus
Sea Pink Armeria maritima
Shasta Daisy Chrysanthemum shasta
Silky Aster Aster sericeus
Sky Blue Aster Aster azureus
Smooth Aster Aster laevis
Smooth Solomon’s Seal Polygonatum biflorum
Spiderwort Tradescantia ohiensis
Strawflower Helichrysum bracteatum
Sweet Pea Lathyrus odoratus
Sweet pepper bush Clethra alnifolia
Sweet Rocket Hesperis matronalis
Sweet William Dianthus barbatus
Thistle Cirsium rivulare
Thyme Thymus
Toadflax Linaria
Violets Viola pedata
Virginian Stock Malcomia maritima
White Aster Aster ptarmicoides
White False Indigo Baptisia leucantha
Wild Lupine Lupinus perennis
Wild Rose Rosa arkansana
Wild Senna Cassia hebecarpa
Yarrow Achillea millefolium