Butterfly gardens attract butterflies, and encourage them to stick around feeding and laying eggs. You don't need a large planting area, a simple window box will do the trick if you are limited on space. Younger plants do better when planted in the spring, and more mature plants can be planted in the fall.
The first step is to research the kind of butterflies are native to your area to determine which plants and flowers you will need. My favorite butterfly is the Eastern Tiger Swallowtail, and is native to Georgia. For egg laying these butterflies need host plants such as wild cherry, sweetbay, tulip tree, mountain ash, and willow. For feeding they need wild cherry, lilac, and milkweed. Another plant also known as the butterfly bush, attracts several types of butterflies. You can find most of these plants at local greenhouses or hardware stores such as Lowe's or Home Depot. If you can't find what you need locally, try looking for online companies who sell bulbs. Have a mixture of plants that bloom in late spring and early fall, during the peak of butterfly activity. You can also hang nectar feeders nearby for an additional food source. Feeders can be easily homemade using empty baby food jars, filling with one part sugar to nine parts water.
The next step is to decide where you want to plant your garden. You may choose to plant a small area such as a window box, or a larger garden. Keep the host plants close to the nectar plants. Your host plants may start to look as if they are being destroyed. This is caused by the caterpillars feeding activities. You can plant the host plants in the center or near the back of the garden to hide the damage from view. Butterfly houses with tiny slits give them a place to rest out of the wind and rain away from birds and other predators. Open areas are needed for butterflies to sun themselves, and shady areas to rest or escape from extremely hot days. A row of shrubs is also helpful in blocking heavy winds, or by planting taller plants in the back and on the sides. Rocks can be placed around the garden in sunny spots as convenient perches.
If a formal garden is not your cup of tea, try planting wild flowers along the edge of woods or on banks.
Butterflies also tend to gather around puddles. You can easily make a homemade puddle in your garden by burying a bucket up to its rim, and fill it with gravel or sand, and pour in water, stale beer, or a sweet drink. You can also let over ripe fruit sit for a few days to attract them as well.
Spruce your garden up with a variety of colors. Butterflies see color better than humans do and seem to prefer shades of red, orange, yellow, purple, and dark pink.
Never use pesticides on your garden as it is harmful to butterflies and caterpillars. Marigolds, petunias, mint, and other herbs are a safe alternative to repel pests.
It takes work and effort, but upon completing your garden you can sit back in enjoyment as you watch the butterflies begin to land in their new home.