A garden full of activities – earthworms in the ground, flying creatures visiting flowers that attract bees – is a healthy garden. Just like with bees, if you want to attract butterflies, there are certain flowers that are sure to have them fluttering around your flower beds. This list of pretty annuals and perennials that support and attract butterflies is a great place to start.
So why a butterfly garden? Of course, we love to spy on interesting and exotic creatures, and some people even aspire to raise butterflies at home. A successful butterfly garden will provide food and shelter for the insect throughout its life cycle. Milkweed and aster, for example, provide safe shelter for the eggs to turn into caterpillars. A butterfly garden should also provide food for the caterpillars to grow and develop into a pupa (aka chrysalis). Goldenrod and snap dragons produce nectar that adult butterflies can eat. These plants are good choices, but when planning your own garden, opt for varieties native to your area, as they will best support local caterpillars and butterflies.
If you want to attract monarch butterflies, try planting milkweed, zinnias, and Miss Molly butterfly bush. Fall flowers like goldenrod and sedum bring butterflies long after summer is over. Once established, your butterfly garden will keep these winged beauties in sight throughout the season.
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It’s called a butterfly bush for a reason. This lush shrub has pretty flowers that attract butterflies and other pollinators. She is a fast and deliciously low maintenance grower.
Colorful marigolds are known to ward off certain pests in your garden, but they are also known to attract both butterflies and bees. Deadhead dry flowers to keep the flowers and butterflies coming!
Butterflies and hummingbirds love the nectar produced by sage plants (also called sage).
Due to their huge flowers, bright colors, and abundance of nectar, butterflies adore cheerful sunflowers. It is a bonus that the large amount of foliage is an excellent source of food for caterpillars.
Native to eastern and southern North America, the white flowers of this plant are ideal for butterflies to rest at the top.
Not only do butterflies love this brightly colored, low-maintenance flowering plant, but they are also self-seeded, which means they’ll reappear in your garden year after year.
Despite the name, these butterfly-friendly flowery beauties come in a variety of colors, not just pink. The “rose” in the name refers to the serrated edges of the flowers, which are similar to cuts made with serrated scissors.
This member of the pea family is available with white, yellow, or blue flowers and will bloom for about six weeks in early spring and summer.
A member of the aster family, this yellow beauty brings all the butterflies to your garden, and is known to have many health benefits, including reducing pain and inflammation.
Also known as Ageratum, dental floss has a blue-purple pompom-shaped flower. Preferring warm climates, it will only grow as a perennial in zones 10 and 11.
This fast growing hedge scrub features ivory white flowers in spring and early summer. Even though it is considered by some to be a weed, butterflies flock to the fragrant flowers.
These midsummer bloomers are known to support the painted lady’s butterfly caterpillar life cycle. Available in a range of colors, this plant can grow between 6 and 8 feet tall, so be sure to plant it in the back row of your flower bed.
With silver leaves and pretty purple flowers, this butterfly magnet looks great along garden borders. Extra Bonus: The fragrant flowers can be dried and used in aromatic sachets or baked into shortbread cookies.
Although not technically a lily, daylily attracts butterflies with the nectar from its large, tubular flowers. Usually available in warm colors (orange, red and yellow), it spreads quickly, so it will need to be divided after a few years to maintain maximum flowering.
Also called Joe-Pye herb in honor of a Native American herbalist, this large, late-season bloomer is known for its blooms and medicinal benefits.
Plant this carefree plant in a sunny location in well-drained soil. It’s drought tolerant, so make sure you don’t overwater.
Stonecrop is a succulent plant that grows best in arid climates when planted in well-drained soil. Choose a location in full sun for best results.
The fragrant foliage of lemon balm (also known as wild bergamot)
attract many pollinators to your garden. Plant in a sunny spot for
spring and summer flowering.
Related to sunflowers, the large purple or white orbs of Globe Thistle attract butterflies when they bloom during the summer months. These drought tolerant plants are ideal for areas that receive little rain.
Not only will it attract butterflies, but mallow is also cultivated around the world for use as food, drink, and fiber. Typically a tropical plant, there are many varieties that are comfortable in more temperate climates.
This flowering shrub can grow between 6 and 10 feet tall. Prune in early spring before the foliage for maximum bloom.
Pansies love cool weather, so plant them in early spring and fall. They are perfect as a container or border plant, and with proper care, they can flower most of the year.
There are many varieties of phlox, ranging from low-growing ground covers to tall breeds that can add height to the back of your flower beds. The flowers are also available in a multitude of colors and are very fragrant.
Similar in appearance to the thistle, these flowers are surrounded by what looks like a pointed collar. Plant in a sunny location in well-drained sandy soil and look for flowers that appear in late summer and fall.
This cheerful flower will bloom all summer and even early fall. Plant in full sun 1 to 2 feet apart as it tends to spread out as it grows.
A real star in early spring and fall, these cool weather loving plants bring lots of color to any flower garden. Deadhead to extend the flowering cycle and make sure to keep the soil moist during the hot summer months.
Also known as the trumpet liana, this fast-growing vine has multiple, tubular-shaped flowers that butterflies love. Regular pruning is necessary as the vine can grow up to 40 feet in one season.
The sweet scent of the sweet arugula flower is more noticeable in the evening. Depending on the location, the arugula blooms from April to July and attracts many pollinators, especially butterflies.
Blooming from early summer to fall, tick seeds take advantage of the dead head. Butterflies love nectar, and plants can tolerate most soils. This plant is a must have for any butterfly garden.
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