Small Space Butterfly Garden | Balcony Or Patio Butterfly Garden

Creating a butterfly garden when you have a large amount of space does not create quite the challenges of a small space butterfly garden. Though challenging, a balcony or patio butterfly garden can be created if you know a few tips and tricks.

Small Space Butterfly Garden | Balcony Or Patio Butterfly GardenSince people live in different climates and locations there is no one “universal” recipe for creating a successful butterfly garden. But, there are certain principles that apply to all butterfly gardens. We will be taking a look at these universal principles.

When creating a butterfly garden, the possibilities of what to include in your butterfly garden design are normally endless. But you have one major constraint – a small space.
So, how do you overcome a small space in order to have a beautiful butterfly garden on your patio or balcony? The answer is getting the right mindset.

Get The Right Mindset  You are going to essentially create a container garden utilizing plants that are known to attract butterflies. Making your butterfly garden a container garden allows you to scale it up or scale it down and change plants as needed.


We have established the fact that we are essentially creating a container garden. So now the trick becomes how to make it attractive to butterflies. We want to create a butterfly magnet.

So, let’s get started.

What Butterflies Are You Most Likely To Attract In Your Area?

There are certain considerations in creating a butter put flight garden that need to be taken into account beyond the basics of simply selecting plants, containers, soil etc.
Doing a little bit of research before getting started can have a huge impact on the success of your butterfly garden.

Before you even begin your butterfly garden, find out which species of butterflies are in your area. You can take the easy, armchair way of doing it and researching the different butterflies in your area on the Internet.

In North America there are so many butterflies it’s impossible to figure them all out I had success in Google by searching “most popular butterflies in (your state)”
Or, you could take an exploratory hike around your location or nearby nature preserve with a butterfly identification book.

This may take a little extra time and effort, but the results will be worth it. After you have compiled your list of local butterfly species, be sure to write down in your butterfly garden plan what these particular species of butterflies use for nectar and food plants.

What Are The Most Popular Butterfly Attracting Plants?

In answering this question we’re going to provide a general answer first, and then a more specific answer. The general answer will be the following fairly comprehensive list of plants that are commonly known to attract butterflies.

Then we will shoe you a few of our favorites,  known to be able to attract butterflies but can easily be grown in a container. Whether or not a plant can be grown in a container is our main consideration for a small space butterfly garden.

Plants That Attract Butterflies:



Bee balm

Black-Eyed Susan

Butterfly bush

Butterfly Milkweed


Common Milkweed








False Indigo

False Nettle


Globe thistle




Indian Paintbrush



Little Bluestem Grass



Musk mallow


Orchard Grass


Panic Grass


Passion Flowers



Purple coneflower


Queen Anne’s lace





Shasta daisy

Silver Brocade



Spider flower



Swamp Milkweed

Swamp Verbena

Tall Verbena


Water Dock

Wild Senna

Woodland Stonecrop



Are you overwhelmed yet? Now, remember we said that the above list is a comprehensive list of all plants that attract butterflies. Not all of those plants listed above are suitable for container gardening.

So how do you find out the plant from the list is suitable for container gardening? Well, I’ll let you do a little work. The easiest way is to simply Google ‘Can XXXX be grown in a container?‘ Simply substitute the plant you want to research for the XXXX above.

The plants we have selected in the next section we know can be easily grown in a container and we feel are particularly attractive and will give you a distinct burst of color while attracting butterflies at the same time.

Here Are Some Butterfly Attracting Plants We Liked For Small Spaces.

The Butterfly Bush (Buddleia davidii)

Photo credit 1 below

This is pretty much hands down, the most commonly used plant to attract butterflies. It is a deciduous shrub with lots and lots of blossoms that bloom from summer to fall.

Unfortunately for us, the standard is an invasive plant that gets to be very large. Mature specimens can get to be 10 feet tall and 15 feet wide. Some people have put them in large containers and enjoyed them for a season. After that, they will not thrive in a container and need to be transplanted.

So are butterfly bushes out of consideration? Not necessarily, the trick is to shop for Dwarf Butterfly Bushes.

These Butterfly bushes will thrive in containers. Be sure to select a container that has several large drainage holes, and fill the container only with a fast-draining, light-weight potting mix. The container you select should be large and be a container that can be left outdoors year-round.


Salvia (Salvia farinacea)

Photo credit 2 below

There are hundreds of varieties of Salvia that come in all different sizes and colors having blue or purple blooms, while others have red, orange, or pink flowers. Butterflies love these plants. Butterflies absolutely love these plants.

Some species that that grow well in containers or pots pots are Salvia fulgens, Salvia corrugata, Salvia sagittata, Salvia splendens (true, large species), Salvia patens, S. dorisiana

They are commonly grown in containers with a growing medium of peat/ perlite mix that drains well. Use a slow release fertilizer.


Phlox (Phlox paniculata)

Photo credit 3 below

This is a beautiful flowering plant that blooms well through the summer it is also very fragrant. It comes in many different colors from pastel pinks, salmon and whites up to more assertive reds and lavender’s.

The plant generally needs a lot of light and full sun and well-drained soil. It can grow to up to 4 feet tall and 1 foot wide.

If you take a large container and plant Phlox with Purple Coneflower you will have a very interesting visually appealing container. They pair so well together because of complementary colors and growing conditions.

You will also be serving up a combination platter of great food to attract the butterflies.



Photo credit 4 below

Butterflies are particularly attracted to asters for their fall blooms. It can extend your butterfly season beyond the summer. As asters are a very common flowering plant is not surprising to learn that there are hundreds of different varieties. Predominant colors for asters are pink, red, blue, purple, and white.

Use a container large enough to allow the root system develop but not so large that the pot takes a large amount of potting mix. Potting mix holds moisture and may encourage root rot. Astrid and Sneed well-drained soil so make sure your container has drainage holes. It is always a good idea to cover the drainage holes from the inside with a mesh screen to keep the soil inside and let the water pass through.

If you like to use of fertilizer, feed the monthly during the growing season. It is important to remove the blooms as soon as they die otherwise the plant will rapidly go to seed and start producing less blooms.

In general asters prefer full sun with soil that is well-drained and kept moist. Don’t let them dry out.


Butterfly Weed (Asclepias tuberosa)

Photo credit 5 below

Butterfly weed, a flower, should not be confused with a butterfly bush which is a shrub. They are two distinctly different plants. Butterfly weed is a native milkweed and it is compact enough to grow in containers.

The suggestion is to use a 12 inch pot or larger (depending on the size of your plant), as the plant does have underground rhizomes.

Butterfly weed is a particular favorite of Monarch butterflies. The Monarchs love the nectar and also provide an environment for the Monarch caterpillar.

Butterfly weed should be well watered in the first season when it gets established, after that it needs a little care. It should be in full sun but will tolerate some shade, and grows well in clay soil.

Some More Thoughts On A Container Butterfly Garden?

The design your butterfly garden is a matter of personal preference. Typical points to consider are the size of your garden and the types of flowers and plants you want to grow. Pick a style of garden that appeals to you, but ensure it also contains the plants and flowers that appeal to the butterflies you wish to attract.

To create the kind of environment that they find attractive, you will also need water of some kind. A birdbath will look attractive and keep the butterflies up off the ground, away from stray cats or mischievous puppies. A shallow dish on a post or hung in a tree will do just as well.

When planting your butterfly garden be careful how you coordinate the colors you choose for your flowerbeds. Although butterflies do not care about your choice of color, you don’t want your garden to be a hodgepodge of unrelated colors and textures. Butterflies are attracted to those flowers that have nectar rather than pollen, like honeysuckle, milkweed, summer lilac, Valerian, daisies, Purple Coneflower, Yellow Sage, day lilies and lavender.

Some people find it helpful to draw and color a layout of their butterfly gardening plan to see what the finished product would look like. Keep in mind that warm colors like red and orange are flashy and showy. These colors have a greater impact against a strong green background. Cool colors such as blue and purple are soothing and toned down and would work better with a white contrast to create the look of freshness and brightness.


Okay, let sum things up. I would love it if your key take away of creating a butterfly attraction garden in a small space is to think ‘Container Garden’.

After getting the container garden idea fixed in your head, everything else will make sense.

We hope you enjoyed “Small Space Butterfly Garden | Balcony Or Patio Butterfly Garden”

Happy gardening adventures!

Thanks For Visiting.

Image Accreditation:

1. Thomas Bresson [CC BY 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

2. By KENPEI (KENPEI’s photo) [GFDL (, CC-BY-SA-3.0 ( or CC BY-SA 2.1 jp (], via Wikimedia Commons

3. By Sandstein (Own work) [CC BY 3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

4. By Franz Xaver (Own work) [GFDL ( or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

5. By Photo by Derek Ramsey (Ram-Man) (Own work) [GFDL 1.2 ( or CC BY-SA 2.5 (], via Wikimedia Commons

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