Butterfly and Backyard Habitat

The Butterfly Garden in the San Diego Zoo's Children's Zoo has all kinds of plants to attract butterflies that may flutter by. Part of this garden's beauty is that visitors get to see butterflies in all stages of the life cycle, close enough for everyone to observe.

Passion vine Passiflora sp. adorns the trellises that surround the garden and is a favorite food of Gulf fritillary caterpillars. The aptly named butterfly weed Asclepias tuberose, a North American native, seems to be the plant of choice for monarch caterpillars. It can be grown easily from seed and will naturalize in our Southern California gardens. Pincushion flower Scabiosa columbaria has a long blooming season. It will flower from spring through summer, if you cut off the dead flowers regularly. Yarrow Achillea sp. is one of the least demanding plants to grow in a garden. It makes a good and inexpensive plant to fill any bare edge you may have, and adult butterflies are attracted to the broad flower spikes. Salvia Salvia microphyllaxgreggii attracts both butterflies and hummingbirds; statice, or sea lavender, Limonium perezii, is a natural "landing pad" for butterflies. They like to sun themselves on the purple butterfly landing strip formed by the flowers.

We hope this beautiful garden with its fanciful flying visitors will inspire our two-legged visitors to plant butterfly gardens of their own. 

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