Creating a Butterfly Garden

11 Nov, 2021

With the hot weather on its way, it’s a great time to think about planting for butterflies. Kids (and adults alike!) will just love watching the caterpillars turn into a chrysalis, and then reappear as a beautiful butterfly. And there’s not much more lovely than a garden full of butterflies!

Here is a growing guide on what varieties are best to get into the garden now to attract them, as well as how to look after them.


While plants are getting established, make sure you water them every few days especially if it has been hot. We highly recommend only using organic products if the plants are specifically for butterflies. Fertilise with Aquaticus Organic Garden Booster once every three weeks, and plant into organic veggie mix, or a mixture of your garden soil and organic compost.

Top 9 plants for butterflies

Swan plant

A host plant for monarch caterpillars in summer, and sometimes a very similar-looking visitor from Australia, the lesser wanderer caterpillar. Plant in full sun to part shade in the garden, or in large pots.


With a large cone and landing pad, this flower is every pollinator’s dream. Visited by a variety of insects including butterflies, bees and hoverflies, echinacea (also known as coneflower) is a fantastic perennial to have in the garden.


Grown as a summer annual in our summer potted colour range, cosmos are best planted in full sun and if planted early enough will have a prolonged blooming period. They come in white and both light and dark pink.


Dry tolerant and hardy, sedum come in many different varieties and survive in hot, dry gardens or pots in full sun. Plant between rocks, in pots or around the mailbox if you have one.


A hardy groundcover, thyme comes in many different varieties that can be used in different dishes. This plant will flower in late spring and through summer, and butterflies and bees enjoy their blooms. Plant in pots and in the garden.

Mint family

The mint family includes catmint, lavender, rosemary and common mint. As well as attracting bees and butterflies, all have culinary uses. Easy to grow, plant in pots or in the garden. Make sure to plant common mint in separated garden beds if you want to stop if creeping into other areas of the garden.


Also known as black-eyed Susan because of the beautiful black centres, this golden, daisy-like flower is a summer long-blooming perennial that looks stunning year after year.


Lavender is perfect if you are looking for a hardy plant that will fill an empty part of the garden. Lavender are fast growers and bloom from spring to summer.


A great addition to any flower garden, zinnias are known to endure dry periods. They come in a variety of colours that can vary wildly, especially when you are growing from seed. Butterflies will be attracted to yellow, white and purple flowers.

Extra plants for the enthusiasts

If you are looking for something a bit different to help out with butterfly populations, consider these plants.


This will attract copper caterpillars (found in Auckland to Wellington; endemic); common copper caterpillars (nationwide; endemic); Rauparaha’s copper caterpillars (Auckland and Northland; endemic).

Helichrysum (everlasting daisy)

This will attract painting lady caterpillars (found in specific areas in the North and South islands including Auckland; Australian).


This will attract common blue caterpillars (North Island and the top part of the South Island; common Australian butterfly). If grown in the South Island, our endemic species ‘southern blue’ caterpillars will feed on it.

Stinging nettle

This will attract yellow and red admiral caterpillars (nationwide; red admiral is endemic, yellow is found in New Zealand and Australia).

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