The Dallas-Fort Worth area is home to a wide variety of native butterflies. The trick to attract butterflies to live in your yard is to plant flowers, trees, vines, and shrubs that provide food for them. According to the Dallas County Lepidopterists’ Society (DCLS), the butterfly and moth enthusiast group, your butterfly habitat project can be as simple or as complex as you want it to be.
Butterfly Garden Planning
The DCLS says that gardeners who want perfect plants may not want to attract butterflies to their yards. In fact, leafless branches in a butterfly garden are a sign of success. Caterpillars will munch on leaves, and butterflies collect nectar. Both host plants, the food for caterpillars, and nectar-producing plants are necessary for butterflies to make your yard their home.
Pesticides cannot be used on a butterfly garden. That is especially important if you are growing fruits and vegetables that attract them. However, the DCLS says that if you do attract butterflies, you will also attract other insects that will feed on the pests that you want to go away.
Flowers to Plant
Flowers are a great place to start to make your yard butterfly-friendly; this is perhaps the easiest step. DCLS says that planting a packet of zinnia seeds can get your butterfly garden growing. Other flowers to consider are sunflowers, black-eyed Susans, forget-me-nots, marigolds, and hollyhocks. Bluebonnets, lantana, paint brush, and yucca—all native plants—also attract their fair share of butterflies.
A vegetable and herb garden can also bring butterflies to your yard all summer long. Plant celery, peppermint, turnips, radishes, okra, fennel, and corn to tempt butterflies to visit. You can also include dill, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, carrots, and cabbage.
Vines and shrubs take more work to plant and cultivate, but they are also great plants to include in your landscaping to attract butterflies. Popular shrubs in the Metroplex such as plumbago and Texas sage are habitat for butterflies. Virtually any vine bean in your garden or delicate lilac wisteria will bring butterflies to your yard.
Trees to Plant
Trees, especially those that flower, are also popular choices to attract butterflies to Dallas-Fort Worth landscaping. Fruit trees, such as peach and pear, are good choices, as are mimosas, hackberries, nearly all the oak trees, mesquite, Arizona ash, and American elm.
Your choice of ground cover will also increase your odds of butterfly and moth visitors. Both Bermuda and St. Augustine, the most popular grasses in the Metroplex, are known to attract butterflies and moths, especially cabbage moths. Kentucky bluegrass, buffalo grass, and little and big bluestem also bring butterflies.
The Metroplex is in the migratory path of the famous orange and black Monarch butterfly. They arrive in the early fall on their way to Mexico to spend the winter months and can be found eating nectar. If you wish to attract Monarchs, particularly during spring migration in April, you should plant some milkweed. Found growing wild in pastures and fields, this weed, known for its milky-white sap when you snap it in half, is the host food for the caterpillars . . . and soon enough, butterflies!