Butterfly Gardening

Attracting butterflies is a simple process. You need to have:

  • A sunny location (at least 4 – 6 hours per day),
  • A variety of native plants that provide nectar from spring to fall
  • Native plants that are larval food for butterflies (for example, Milkweed plants for Monarchs, Pearly Everlasting plants for American Painted Lady)
  • Roosting shelters (areas where butterflies can perch/roost, such as trees or shrubs)


Our Pods have over 30 different species of native plants, 8 species of native shrubs and 4 milkweed species (common, swamp, whorled and butterfly flower) from our partnered grower:
Grange Hollow Gardens and Nursery.

The following table shows the variety of plants  used in our Pods.

Common Plant Name Scientific Plant Name
Butterfly Gaura Gaura lindheimeri
Great Lobelia Lobelia siphilitica
Cardinal Flower Lobelia cardinalis
Blue Vervain Verbena hastata
Early Meadow Rue Thalictrum dioicum
Turtlehead Chelone glabra
Purple Coneflower Echinacea purpurea
Gray-headed Coneflower Ratibida pinnata
Black-eyed Susan Rudbeckia hirta
Wild Bergamot Monarda fistulosa
Bee Balm Monarda didyma
Boneset Eupatorium perfoliatum
Butterfly Bush Buddleia davidii
Coreopsis Coreopsis lanceolata
Wild Columbine Aquilegia canadensis
Showy Goldenrod Solidago speciosa
Spotted Joe Pye Weed Eutrochium maculatum
Little Joe Pye Weed Eupatorium dubium
New England Aster Symphyotrichum novae-angliae
Primrose, Common Evening Oenothera biennis
Showy Blanket Flower Gaillardia pulchella
Cylindric Blazing Star Liatris cylindracea
Spiked Blazing Star Liatris spicata
Hairy Beardtongue Penstemon hirsutus
Foxglove Beardtongue Penstemon digitalis
Common Milkweed Asclepias syriaca
Butterfly Milkweed Asclepias tuberosa
Swamp Milkweed Asclepias incarnata
Pearly Everlasting Anaphalis margaritacea
Anise Hysop Agastache foeniculum

Butterfly Garden Pods:

In the spring of 2015, Butterfly Gardens of Saugeen Shores selected a number of sites to plant its gardens. The largest site was along the Captain Spence Path in Southampton comprising of 7 different pods. This is rugged coastal terrain comprising of sand and rocks and strong winds off of Lake Huron. Along the path, each pod is located in its own unique micro eco-system.  One pod  is in a wetland area. Here we planted Cardinal Flower, Boneset, Spotted Joe Pye Weed, Little Joe Pye Weed, Turtle Head and Swamp Milkweed: all plants that tolerate and thrive in wet conditions.  Our largest pod is in a rocky, dry terrain where we planted mostly drought tolerant plants.

Our other butterfly gardens are located away from the lake.  The Bruce County Museum and Cultural Centre in Southampton has extensive gardens throughout its property. Many of our plants were added to supplement these gardens. At Perkins Park in Southampton along the Saugeen Shores Rail Trail, we created a berm to house butterfly friendly plants.  MacGregor Point Provincial Park also created a berm by its Visitors Centre. Butterfly Gardens of Saugeen Shores also planted milkweed plants at the Saugeen First Nations Forest Garden along the Saugeen River valley bed.

Planting 1,400 plants took one week with a crew of 30 volunteers. Along the Captain Spence Path we dug small holes and filled them with triple mix. Cedar mulch was added for water retention and to keep existing plants and grasses from overtaking the pods. Maintaining gardens of this size is a huge task. Weekly weeding, watering, monitoring of pods and tender loving care was essential for plant success. The Town of Saugeen Shores assisted with watering along the Captain Spence Path. Volunteers were also instrumental in aiding with pod maintenance. Butterfly Gardens of Saugeen Shores also created a summer job for a high school student to maintain the pods.

Butterfly Gardens of Saugeen Shores mandate is for a three year project. Year one (2015): plant the plants in various pods throughout Saugeen Shores. Year two (2016): monitor the first year plants, add additional plants and native fruit bearing shrubs, develop and install informative signage. Year three (2017): is a monitoring and educational year. After 2017, Butterfly Gardens of Saugeen Shores envisions the plants self seeding and spreading in a natural process to naturally blend in with the surrounding habitat of plant life. BGOSS plans on continuing its education and programming component.

In its first year of operation (2015) BGOSS created 13 registered and certified Monarch Way Station pods throughout Saugeen Shores. Over 1,400 native plants were planted.

In the spring of 2016, BGOSS created 3 new pods along the Saugeen Rail Trail, and 2 new pods at Perkins Park. Total number of pods now stands at 15. Over 750 native plants and 50 native shrubs were planted throughout the pods with the majority going to the newly created pods. Each of these pods were maintained by our Pod Squad Ambassadors.

In 2017 plans are underway to create educational signage along the Captain Spence Path. After 2017, Butterfly Gardens of Saugeen Shores envisions the plants self seeding and spreading in a natural process to naturally blend in with the surrounding habitat of plant life.

Monarch Waystations:

Monarch Waystations are registered and certified Monarch butterfly gardens. Our goal from the outset was to have each of our gardens certified. A waystation is a Monarch Butterfly friendly garden that creates a habitat for Monarchs to have milkweed plants for its larvae and nectar rich plants for adults.


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