Butterflies bring joy and beauty to a sunny garden. At the same time, they also help to pollinate the plant. However, attracting butterflies is becoming increasingly difficult.
We asked gardening experts to find plants that attract butterflies. Suggested species include:
- Showy Milkweed
Read through this article to find the remaining 23 species.
Danielle Killian from FormLA Landscaping
Monarch butterflies need milkweed, and they need it to be native – we like to save them with Showy Milkweed. Narrow Leaf Milkweed is also helpful in Los Angeles.
Planting a non-native is a bit like cooking an elaborate steak for a vegan, and it tends to be an invasive eating-up native habitat.
Our striking El Segundo Blue butterflies have seen a resurgence, thanks to efforts to reclaim our beaches from invasive ice plants and rewild with native buckwheat.
Pale Swallowtail adores this fragrant, mint-scented plant. Their yellow and black stand out against the lilac blooms – it’s a dramatic show.
Wendy Gardner from Glow Skincare
This is my all-time favorite. It’s so easy to grow, and butterflies love it.
It produces so many seeds you can seed-save for next year and share/swap with neighbors, plus you can eat the petal in a salad or use them in skincare.
They are suitable to be grown by kids and those without any green thumbs. Their bright, cheerful color perks up the mood – and with the pandemic, all mood-perking is helpful.
Sherry Morgan from Petsolino
The scent of this flower is one of my favorites, so I added some to my garden. But just when I thought its soothing scent couldn’t get any better, I’ve learned that its pretty purple stalks also lure butterflies.
They attract butterflies, and all types of pollinators, so be aware of your bee count boosts in your backyard. It blooms in drier soil and areas with low humidity, so I planted it where the sun shines on it.
It also does not need too much watering. You can water them rarely when the soil is almost dry.
This is a carefree and spirited flowering plant I may say. Just like lavender, they grow well in drained soil with full sunlight. They only need an average garden soil to thrive in.
Centaurea can be in its full bloom during May through June, holding up against heat and drought that butterflies can still roam in your garden and enjoy for as long as possible.
It also bears purple color in its spidery flower head. This is quite easy to grow in every garden and what’s more attractive is it is a zealous nectar producer which draws butterflies in droves.
You can just enjoy watching. This plant grows best in well-drained soil and needs constant sunlight but can also hold up to heat, humidity, and even drought.
You can water them regularly but just let the soil dry out in between.
This is a tried and true summer flowering plant. Just like the rest, they grow best in well-drained soil with full sunlight.
This made them produce full heads of small, beautiful blooms of purple, pink, red, cream, and white. And I have all of them in my garden. Pretty cool, right?
Its sweet scent surely keeps the butterflies and bees clustered happily. Water them regularly, especially during drought season.
Irma Stefanova from Independent Fashion Bloggers
In my experience, the best plants to attract butterflies are oregano and buddleia (also known as the butterfly bush).
They are all wonderful and super easy to grow, which is the combination I’m looking for whenever I add something new to my garden.
What’s even better is that you can use them in your household too! When it comes to cooking, having some fresh oregano nearby is sure to come in handy quite often in everyone’s kitchen.
Furthermore, the buddleia plant is known to have great skin healing qualities and can be applied on wounds to help fight off infections.
A tremendous additional tip is to make sure to plant the same types of flowers together in blocks so that butterflies can find them more easily. Allow for plenty of natural sunshine as well, and I’m sure that your garden will be full of fluttering beauties in no time.
Melanie Musson from Clearsurance.com
For whimsical, unmanicured gardens, consider a wildflower mix that includes
- Black-eyed Susans
This assortment of flowers will bloom throughout the summer, so you’ll always have flowers to attract butterflies.
Wildflowers generally require minimal care. Depending on your climate, you may need to water them every 2 or 3 days, but other than that, wildflower gardens do best when left alone.
If you’d prefer a more manicured garden, you can get an early start at attracting butterflies by growing spring bulbs. Daylilies are a butterfly favorite, as are foxglove and poppies.
A border of alyssum around is not only beautiful, but it’s also known for attracting butterflies.
Matt Scott from Termite Survey
Go with Asters. Apart from attracting butterflies, its violet hue will add some color and vibrance to your garden’s overall look.
In terms of caring for them, asters thrive in cooler temperatures, particularly moist summers. If you’re living in a place that’s too hot, be sure they’re not situated right under the sun.
They’re also moisture sensitive, so be sure to keep water levels balanced. Ultimately, they’re low-maintenance plants that don’t require too much attention.
Erinn Witz from Seeds and Spades
Butterflies are not only a beautiful summer sight, they’re also a critical part of a thriving local ecosystem. They help pollinate some of our favorite crops, and some butterfly caterpillars also eat harmful garden insects.
Planting various butterfly-friendly plants is a perfect way to draw these helpful and lovely insects into your yard and garden. In general, flowers with brightly colored blooms and plenty of nectar are butterfly magnets.
If you’re interested in annual flowers, both zinnias and nasturtium are easy to grow from seed and are wonderfully low maintenance.
If you’re trying to attract monarch butterflies, milkweed is a prime choice since it’s the only food monarch caterpillars eat.
Check with local garden groups to ask if anyone has spare milkweed seed pods to share with you.
You can also look in open fields for healthy milkweed plants to harvest pods from (just be sure to get the proper permission first!). Some online retailers also sell milkweed seeds.
Most flowers are sun-lovers, so place your plants in an area that gets at least a few hours of direct sunlight every day.
And to create a perfect butterfly haven, don’t forget to set out a freshwater source for the butterflies to drink from.
Gina Harper from Harper’s Nurseries
These bright and cheery plants are super easy to grow from seeds. As their name suggests, Sunflowers need lots of sunlight and can grow more than 3 meters tall!
You can sow seeds in April in individual containers around 1.5cm deep. They will need frequent watering, and when the seeds have germinated, you can plant them in May.
Plant the seedlings approximately 1.5cm deep in soil with extra organic matter. Add tomato feed when they are about to flower and ensure they are well watered.
You might want to support them with a cane if you are planting one of the taller varieties.
Daisies are another pretty plant that attracts butterflies, easy to grow and maintain. You’ll need to water newly planted Daisies at least once a week.
As soon as they are established, you can water less frequently. Fertilize them in the Spring and make sure to plant in well-draining soil to avoid root rot.
Katie Ziskind from Wisdom Within Counseling
One of the best plants to attract butterflies is called a butterfly bush. It has cone-shaped flowers, and you can find them in a few varieties and colors.
There are also dwarf varieties that are much smaller, and the larger variety is up to 6 feet in width. The butterfly bush will become dormant in the winter months due to the cold.
Butterfly bushes will come back as a perennial every year in the summer months when it is sunny and warm, and those are the months when you will see the most butterflies at your butterfly bush.
Have your butterfly bush in a lovely spot so that you can sit in a chair and watch it in the summer months, and you will see many butterflies coming to your butterfly bush.
The cone-shaped flowers are made up of tiny miniature flowers combined to create a come, so that is why it attracts so many butterflies.
If your butterfly bush is newly planted, make sure it is good soil and good sunlight. Once a butterfly bush is fully established, it will be effortless to maintain.
David Shell from TradesmenCosts
If you want a low-growing plant that will spread like a blanket of flowers, phlox is the best choice.
They come in different varieties and are great all year round. However, you have to make sure that you get your soil tested before planting perennials such as phlox.
If you want small and eye-catching flowers in different hues, the lantana is for you. They can provide accents to your hedges. Lantanas tolerate the heat and will not wither even with excessive watering.
If you enjoy the color blue, the Bluestar is for you. They have star-shaped flowers that bloom in spring. Bluestars thrive well in loamy soil and can tolerate the sun if watered regularly.
Going organic is beneficial to pollinators such as butterflies. Choose to go organic, which is not only more effective but also safer.
Aside from bees, hummingbirds, and butterflies, there are also predators living in your garden. Protect your pollinators by sheltering them.
You can grow a hedgerow to act as nests. A decomposed log or a pile of grass cuttings would also be helpful. Artificial nests can also increase the butterfly population of your area.
If you want your garden to attract more butterflies, make sure to provide nectar and pollen. Special feeders can help you attract not only butterflies but also hummingbirds and bees. Muddy puddles can also help them flock to your area.
Above are the flowers with different colors suggested by experts. They are suitable for adorning your garden and attract a lot of butterflies and other beneficial creatures.
Choose for yourself some of the most suitable species and start planting them in your garden!