Bring on the Butterflies…

After tons of research, I finally decided what to plant in our yard to attract butterflies.  As you may know, we’ve been creating a backyard wildlife habit, following the guidelines set forth by the National Wildlife Federation (NWF).

My first goal in creating our butterfly garden was to add plants to our yard that will provide nectar.  Several varieties of Salvia (commonly known as sage) are native to our region (San Francisco East Bay), and these plants have brightly colored flowers that the pollinators love.  Salvia are also drought tolerant, so they don’t need much water… a bonus for someone like me who tends to forget to water the plants.  I also think they’re beautiful, and I love their scent.  So, that’s what we decided to plant first!

On Thursday, my son and I went to the UC Botanical Garden at Berkeley to pick out several varieties for our yard.  The gardens have a California Native Plants Nursery that is only open on Thursdays, from 10:30am-1:30pm.  Of course, we were once again unlucky… it was closed this week, as the selection was depleted after their annual plant sale.  But luckily, we were able to find what we wanted on the plant deck, where plants may be purchased  daily, between 10:30am and 4:30pm.

When we got home, my four-year-old had fun helping me dig holes in the soil.  He enjoys both digging in the dirt and helping me around the house, so he loved this project.  It was a hot day, and I was thankful for the help.  I hope the plants will like their new home and thrive here!

Now if I can only track down some milkweed and other host plants for caterpillars…

Interested in attracting butterflies to your backyard?  Here’s a tip sheet from the NWF:  Attract Butterflies

Salvia Clevelandii
Salvia cv. Bee’s Bliss
Salvia Leucophylla


  1. Beautiful nature photography on your site! And attracting butterflies, what a good occupation:) Last weekend, in our Methow Valley of the North Cascades, I attracted some beauties! It was so special–our anniversary hike. One was following me up the trail, a tiger swallowtail. The other landed an inch from my hand during our pickynick lunch and my husband said, “what is that butterfly doing so close to your hand?” I just picked it up and it hung out with me until a pesky fly landed on it. It was periwinkle blue:) Just thought I’d share. Thank you for your post! Georgina @


    1. Thank you for sharing your beautiful story! We were in the rain forest exhibit at the Academy of Sciences in San Francisco yesterday, and a huge blue butterfly landed on my son’s head. Magical! Why didn’t I have my good camera with me??


  2. zelda just told me you were creating a little habitat-we have been doing the same thing! so much fun & we just collected some drift wood from jenner beach (kids love to collect:) we are continually building our sensory garden-which is a great habitat for butterflies and hummingbirds. hope all is well-we miss you guys!


    1. Cool! C must be having so much fun working on the garden with you! We’ve been dealing with sicknesses around here, so we’ve been lying low. Hope to see you guys soon!!


  3. A lovely post, Nature Mom, and I appreciate the link, as well. We’ve been fortunate with the butterflies, and now I’m trying to introduce some native honeysuckle to attract humming birds, too.


    1. The hummingbirds are my favorite! I’m looking forward to their return. A few used to make daily visits to our rosemary. Sadly, another little bird came along and ate all of the flowers off the rosemary bush, so the hummingbirds don’t visit anymore. I do still see them doing something high up in the oak tree. I think they’re eating spiders…


  4. So wonderful; most of the native plants I’ve put in my area are butterfly-magnets, and it’s such a joy to see them out there… and the birds that get their berries at certain times of the year. 🙂 Besides: Pretty flowers! So great that your son is getting as hands-on with the earth and learning so much.


    1. We still have another section of the garden to figure out what to do with, and I’m thinking berries for the birds. For some reason, I don’t see many butterflies around in our neighborhood. Tons of bees and hummingbirds! But I really hope to see more butterflies…


      1. The berries will *definitely* attract birds! Fortunately in our area, many of the butterfly plants also produce berries at different times (not all, but some), which brings both. We don’t have many hummingbirds, sadly…. Odd that there aren’t many butterflies in your area, though. Perhaps it has to do with the plants alone!


        1. Yes… I don’t like the idea of the birds eating the butterflies, but I guess that’s inevitable. We have birds that scour our yard daily, looking for insects. There are supposed to be a ton of different kinds of butterflies living here. I just haven’t seen them….


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