There’s just something magical about butterflies floating around your garden. These insects are not just a beautiful sight, they fill your outdoor space with life and bright colors. Also, they play an essential role in pollinating other plants.
For these reasons, butterfly gardening is the real deal for many growers. It’s the art of planting flowers and plants to attract these beautiful, innocent-looking creatures into your yard.
Having these winged beauties flying around your garden is incredibly peaceful and enjoyable! Yet, figuring out which plants are best to attract them is hard. It can take shifting through hundreds and hundreds of potential flowers, trees, and shrubs, which can take a significant amount of time and effort.
But, don’t worry! You’ve come to the right place today! This article will help you find out which plants are best for attracting butterflies into your garden in a matter of minutes. Keep reading below to find out which plants attract butterflies into your yard!
What Types Of Plants Do Butterflies Prefer?
- 1 What Types Of Plants Do Butterflies Prefer?
- 2 General Tips for Keeping Your Garden Butterfly-Friendly
- 3 10 Flowering Plants That Attract Butterflies
- 3.1 1. Butterfly Bush (Buddleia Davidii)
- 3.2 2. Aster
- 3.3 3. Bee Balm (Monarda Didyma)
- 3.4 4. Black-Eyed Susan (Rudbeckia Hirta)
- 3.5 5. Coneflower
- 3.6 6. Cosmos (Cosmos sulphureus)
- 3.7 7. Goldenrod (Solidago)
- 3.8 8. Hackberry (Celtis Occidentalis)
- 3.9 9. Joe-Pye Weed (Eutrochium Purpureum)
- 3.10 10. Liatris (Blazing Star)
- 4 In Conclusion
First things first, let’s understand better what butterflies want to find in a garden.
Unlike other pollinators, such as bees that are only attracted to flowers, butterflies have two different needs when it comes to the gardens they choose to hang out in.
First of all, lepidopterans prefer plants that provide nectar for adult butterflies to eat. These plants are commonly known as nectar plants. They provide nectar, a sugary solution that is found in flowers to promote pollination. Why adult butterflies need nectar? Because it provides them with a vital food source.
These winged beauties graze during the day. So, if they are to find plenty of flowers that produce nectar in your garden, they are going to want to spend a lot of time there. Every species of butterfly prefers certain flowers as a nectar source. Yet, most adult butterflies will accept nectar from a wide variety of flowers.
The second important need for butterflies includes plants that provide food for caterpillars, which is their larval phase. These plants are commonly known as host plants.
Caterpillars are basically the initial form of butterflies. Now, the thing is that caterpillars do not eat nectar. They only eat leaves and plants. For this reason, female butterflies only lay their eggs on suitable host plants because the young caterpillars that grow can’t travel too far to feed. So, if you want as many butterflies in your garden as possible, make sure you also include host plants in your gardening.
There’s also a downside of having host plants in your garden. More precisely, it’s very likely for the host plants to be heavily munched on by caterpillars. Yet, there’s a strategy to deal with this problem: grow host plants in an area that is not highly visible.
General Tips for Keeping Your Garden Butterfly-Friendly
Attracting butterflies into your garden is mostly a matter of what plants you choose to grow in your outdoor space, just like we’ve mentioned above. Butterflies want to find plants where they can lay their eggs and plants that can be sources of nectar for adult butterflies.
Besides that, there are a few other things that butterflies may be looking for in an outdoor space. For example, butterflies also want sunny open spaces in the gardens they hang out in.
What’s more, they also need shelter from winds and storms. When rain threatens, these winged beauties seek shelter, represented by plants on which they can cling to the underside of leaves, tall grass where there can climb deep into, or rocks and trees with cracks where they can tuck themselves into.
Another thing they want is freshwater. Water is an essential resource for butterflies. So, your winged visitors will really appreciate it if you offer them some fresh water in ponds, fountains, birdbaths, or terra cotta plant saucers.
One more essential thing to keep in mind is to choose native plants to grow in your garden, as these are the most beneficial to the species of butterflies and caterpillars in your area. We recommend consulting a local specialist in your area for more information on native plants there.
10 Flowering Plants That Attract Butterflies
Now that you know precisely what butterflies want to find in a garden, you’ll also better understand our choices of flowers and why we advise you to plant them in your outdoor space. We will share with you both host plants that attract butterflies and nectar plants that act as a source of food for these winged pollinators.
Here is our list of ten flowering plants that attract butterflies:
1. Butterfly Bush (Buddleia Davidii)
No list of plants that attract butterflies into the garden would be complete without mentioning the Butterfly Bush. This brightly colored flower not only creates a vibrant summer display in any yard but is also one of the best nectar flowers for adult butterflies.
So, as the name suggests, this deciduous shrub is a magnet for butterflies. And, as a plus, the red-flowering type also attracts hummingbirds. However, it’s essential to know that in the US, this plant is actually considered an invasive plant because it doesn’t naturally grow only in the area you plant it. It is also pervasive enough to push out some native plants.
Butterfly Bush is pretty low-maintenance, and it thrives in average or medium moisture, well-drained soil in a sunny location.
Another great garden addition for attracting butterflies is the Aster flower. Asters are daisy-like perennial flowers that come in a variety of bright colors. Their bloom time starts in July and finishes at the end of September, making your outdoor space still look alive towards the end of the growing season when most other plants have stopped flowering.
You can find Asters in white, pink, purple, blue, and red.
These flowers are both host plants for butterfly species such as Pearl Crescent and Silvery Checkerspot, but also nectar plants for species such as Sulfurs.
Asters prefer well-drained, organically rich soil and sunny spots where they get full sun.
3. Bee Balm (Monarda Didyma)
Bee Balm is a North-American native perennial plant. It attracts not only butterflies but also bees and hummingbirds. So, if you plant this flower in your garden, it will be filled with a lot of life.
This flower has a daisy-like appearance, and it comes in various colors, including pink, purple, red, and white. Bee Balm plants are really easy to grow as they are drought-resistant. They need moist, rich soil and full sun to thrive. One thing you should pay attention to with this plant is where you plant it because it tends to spread prolifically.
Bee Balm is a host plant for butterfly species such as Hermit Sphinx and Rasberry Pyrausta and a nectar plant for Whites, Sulfurs, and hummingbird moths.
4. Black-Eyed Susan (Rudbeckia Hirta)
Black-Eyed Susans are also magnets for many species of butterflies and bees as they are a great source of nectar. They are members of the Aster family. Native to North America, Black-Eyed Susan is one of the most popular wildflowers grown.
They have a bright golden-yellow color. They bloom from July to September, bringing a lot of color and vibrancy to the summer garden. They prefer moist, well-drained soil and a lot of sunlight. These plants are really sun-loving!
Black-Eyed Susans are host plants for Bordered Patch, Silvery Checkerspot, and Gorgone Checkerspot butterfly species.
Another daisy-like perennial flower that acts as a magnet for butterflies, Coneflower is another great addition to your outdoor space. Part of the Echinacea genus, Coneflowers are really easy to grow and care for as they are heat and drought-resistant. They come in various bright colors such as pink, orange, yellow, and red.
They bloom for months during the summer, ensuring that your garden will be filled with life during the hot season. The blooms and seed heads attract these winged beauties. Coneflowers prefer full sun and average, well-drained soil.
Coneflowers are both host plants for the butterfly species Silvery Checkerspot and nectar plants for many species of butterflies, including small skippers.
6. Cosmos (Cosmos sulphureus)
Cosmos flowers are other flowering annual plants that you need in your garden to attract butterflies, bees, and birds.
Native to Mexico and North America, Cosmos flowers come in many colors, including yellow, white, pink, magenta, orange, red, and golden yellow. So, they don’t just bring pollinators into your garden but also a variety of bright colors. These are also amazing cut flowers. They are really easy to grow as they can handle drought and general neglect. They generally prefer well-draining soil and sunny spots.
Cosmos bloom from June to August. So, they’ll make sure that throughout the summer months, your outdoor space will be filled with life.
7. Goldenrod (Solidago)
Goldenrods are really attractive to butterflies thanks to their plumes of fluffy, yellow flowers. These plants also provide shelter to the larvae of butterflies and other beneficial insects. What’s more, when planted next to vegetable gardens, they will attract insect pests away from your veggies.
These flowers are so easy to care for because they will survive nearly anywhere. However, they do prefer really sunny spots and well-draining soil.
Goldenrods are appealing to most smaller butterflies, but one particular species that prefer them is Tiger Swallowtails. They bloom from July to October, so your garden is going to look alive during the hot season and more.
8. Hackberry (Celtis Occidentalis)
Hackberry trees are great examples of plants that will make your garden butterfly-friendly. Although they are native to North Dakota, these medium-sized trees can adapt and survive in areas throughout most of the United States.
They establish really quickly, and they are really tolerant of various soil types and light conditions.
What makes them so attractive to butterflies is that they provide excellent spaces for these winged beauties to lay their eggs. For this reason, Hackberry trees are amazing host plants for larvae.
They mostly attract butterfly species such as Snout and Hackberry Emperor.
9. Joe-Pye Weed (Eutrochium Purpureum)
This beautiful late-blooming wildflower is particularly attractive to butterflies and other pollinators, thanks to its sweet vanilla scent. Native to eastern and central North America, Joe-Pye Weed features large flower heads colored in pale pink to purple, which are filled with nectar and pollen.
It is a relatively low-maintenance flower, and it has no serious issues with pests or diseases. It prefers to be placed in full sun and to grow in moist, well-drained soil.
Joe-Pye Weed is really attractive to plenty of butterfly species, being both a source of nectar and a host plant for these winged pollinators. It attracts skippers, swallowtails, Ruby Tiger Moth, Clymene Moth, and many others.
10. Liatris (Blazing Star)
Last but not least, make sure you plant Liatris flowers in your garden to attract more butterflies. They feature purple and lavender blooms that are incredibly beautiful to have in your summer garden. Plus, the flowers will ensure that you’ll see bees and butterflies in your yard throughout the summer months. Liatris flowers are filled with nectar, which makes them act like magnets for adult butterflies looking for feeding.
These flowers require very little care as long as you provide them with full sun and well-drained, slightly acidic to neutral soil.
Liatris flowers are preferred as host plants by butterfly species Bleeding Flower Moth and as nectar plants by various butterfly species from large to small.
Butterfly gardening is going to bring a lot of joy into your life and outdoor space. During summer, your outdoor space will be filled with life, bright colors, and a magical atmosphere created by these winged beauties.
All you have to do to make your garden butterfly-friendly and attract many of these beautiful pollinators is to plant the right flowers that will provide feeding and shelter to them. If you keep in mind the needs of butterflies when you choose what plants to grow in your yard, you’ll definitely enjoy a fascinating show in your garden every summer.