Make your home's exterior the ultimate hangout for these winged creatures.

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Want to see gorgeous colors fly by as you enjoy the afternoon sun in your backyard? One simple way to achieve this goal is by starting a butterfly garden. The striking insects with Pantone-perfect wings can add much beauty to your environment; at the same time, depending on what flowers you plant, you'll be helping the entire life cycle of a butterfly—egg, caterpillar (larva), chrysalis (pupa), and adult—prevail. And the process to make your own is simpler than you might think.

One butterfly stop on pink flower
Credit: Getty / twomeows

Plant the Right Flowers

If you want to encourage these winged insects to to flutter around your yard, plant bright, fragrant flowering plants that produce nectar such as asters and coneflowers—they'll serve as a much-needed energy source for adult butterflies from early spring through late fall. For best results, grow a cluster of different plants, the North American Butterfly Association suggests. Many flowering plants produce nectar so ask your local nursery (or butterfly garden, if you have one in your region) which butterfly species are most common in your area and which nectar plants they prefer.

Feed Caterpillars

If you want to create an enticing place that will help the butterfly population grow and multiply, you'll need plants that will feed caterpillars, too. But these crawlers are picky eaters, so it's worth asking local experts which plants the most common butterflies in your area prefer, says the butterfly association. You'll want to be sure you plant a variety of flowers that caterpillars will enjoy.

Provide Sunny Spots

When planning your butterfly garden, remember that these insects are cold-blooded and need the warmth of the sun, especially in the morning; most will prefer flower that are planted in full sun. You'll also want to make sure that there's a place where sunlight hits the ground early in the day, such as on a large rock or a section of pavement, so they can warm their wings.

Offer a Buffet of Choices

Like a restaurant that gives you lots of choices, your garden should also have many diverse offerings for butterflies that satisfy different needs. In addition to flowers with nectar, plant shrubs to shelter the garden from wind and place a variety of rocks from which they can take flight.

Water Is Key

Butterflies also need water, but they get it mostly from dew, nectar, tree sap, and puddles. Even moist dirt or sand serves as drinking sources for them. To make sure butterflies can quench their thirst in your yard, consider creating a puddling station, such as a damp area of ground covered with sand.

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