A beginner’s butterfly garden uses host plants and flowering plants that grow wild. Shade is not an issue for many of these butterfly species here since they are adapted to living in hot open areas. Because this garden uses wild plants, it requires almost zero maintenance (except for occasional trimming).
For aesthetic value, you can hide the host plants behind or between ornamental plants, or use them as verges (edge or border plants).
Some of these butterfly species may already be present in your gardens. But enriching your garden for butterflies can bring them closer for you to view.
This garden is suitable for sustaining populations of these species of butterfly.
These are recent introductions to Malaysia; they can use passionflower vines as a food source for their caterpillars
Coromandel and Cleome butterflies
These butterflies lay their eggs in lawns on low growing plants that can withstand being mowed.
Roadside tree butterflies
These butterflies can use common roadside trees as a host. This means that you don’t have to plant their host plants but they will still be attracted to your garden.
This is the list of host plants that can be planted in a beginner butterfly garden. You can choose to plant all or just some of them. A few of these are common urban wildflowers.
Passionflowers are creeping vines that can be grown on fences. Sometimes they can be found growing on the borders of drains or other plants.
Coromandel and Cleome are two easily grown wildflowers that are almost everywhere and require almost no maintenance. They grow low and won’t take over your garden, so a small patch or planting them between pots is possible. Both these plants produce seed pods that can be easily harvested from patches of wildflowers.
Lawn plants like grasses and some plants that grow together with grasses, such as Semalu and Desmodium, are also used by lawn butterflies.
|Target butterflies||Host plant species|
|Passionflower butterflies||Corky passionflower, Passiflora suberosa|
(other ornamental passionflowers can also be used as long as you don’t mind caterpillars)
|Coromandel and Cleome butterflies||Coromandel, Asystasia gangetica (ornamental varieties are available if you would like to use them instead)|
|Purple Cleome, Cleome rutidosperma|
|Lawn butterflies||Semalu, Mimosa pudica|
|Goat grass, Ishaemum muticum|
|Roadside tree butterflies||Acacia|
As with wildflower patches, allowing other plants to grow in between the host plants helps to fertilise the soil and lower the need for maintenance. Let it grow wild without pesticides and you might get additional biodiversity such as stingless bees and ladybugs.
Coromandel flowers can double as a nectar source for adult butterflies. Easily grown wildflowers such as Goat weed, Cupid’s shaving brush, Tridax daisy and Beggarticks are suitable sources of nectar since they are almost always flowering. Since all of these are from the sunflower family, they produce dandelion like seeds that reseed the plot after the wilt.
The seeds can be harvested from wild patches and placed in a plot.
This article is supported by The Habitat Foundation Conservation Grant