One of my favorite sites to see is the beautiful butterflies that gracefully flutter through the air, fluttering from flower to flower in my garden. One of my hopes this year was to create a small haven that would encourage the butterflies to visit our area more often and to plant several variety of herbs that they love to use as host plants.
Attracting butterflies to the garden will require a sunny location, and plant nectar-producing flowers for adult butterflies and host plants for their larvae. I purchased most of my herbs this year from the local garden center but starting them from seed would have also been a great option. I labeled all of the herbs I purchased with these adorable slate garden markers.
I love all the butterflies but two of my favorites are the Swallowtail and the Monarch. In order to attract them to the garden I knew that I would need to plant nectar plants that would provide food for adult butterflies and host plants that would provide food for butterfly larvae and a place for butterflies to lay their eggs.
Herbs to Plant for Attracting Butterflies
-Dill is an excellent host and nectar source for butterflies. It is very easy to grow and can grow up to 4 feet high. They have small attractive yellow flowers that bloom in large airy clusters around a hollow stem. By mid-season, I hope to find a lot of happy little caterpillars eating away at the Dill.
-Fennel is the companion plant to dill. Fennel will attract the entire life cycle of the black swallowtail butterfly. Fennel can grow very tall and like Dill it will have large lacy flower heads.
- Parsley is a wonderful host plant for butterflies and a great source of nectar if it is given the chance to flower.
Dill, Fennel and Parsley are the three most important plant that butterflies use as their host plants. These three plants are considered the "swallowtail three" and you want them for their foliage, so don’t let them flower until you are ready. I have a few plants of each right now but plan to plant a lot more because they are such an attractant for the butterflies. I fully expect to see a lot of caterpillars on mine this year!
There are a variety of reasons to grow herbs besides just the hope of having a lot of butterflies visit your yard. Even if you don't use them to cook with they are beautiful to grow for their aromatic scent, beautiful flowers and many of them can even be used in bouquets.