Types of Plants that Attract Butterflies

Last Updated on August 13, 2023 by Paul Guzman

Types of Plants that Attract Butterflies.  Most outdoor plants will produce some kind of flower; however, some flowers are more attractive to butterflies than others.  Butterflies are attracted to plants that produce a sweet smell and bright colors.  It’s best to know the type of plants you want to use in your garden if you want to attract butterflies.

But first, here is a list of plants that butterflies like.

There are other plants and bushes that I can list above but these are the main ones.

On top of the list is Milkweed – Specifically, the Asclepias curassavica also called the Scarlet Milkweed and tropical Milkweed.  Rich red and orange flowers bloom from mid-summer to late fall.  It will die back in freezing zones. But it does come back if placed in a south or southwest-facing wall. Good well-composted soil will also help it to come back.

The Monarch Butterfly loves this plant; however, this plant does have an issue with butterflies.

According to Milkweed hosts a protozoan parasite called Ophryocystis elektroscirrha (OE). As caterpillars, monarchs ingest the parasite along with their normal milkweed meals, and when they hatch from their chrysalises they are covered in spores. “It’s a debilitating parasite,” Satterfield says. Read more here. 

The article pertains to areas where it does not freeze.  If you live in non-freezing zones, you should read the article above!

Types of Plants that Attract ButterfliesConsider using these types of plants for your flowerbeds or garden.   Butterflies do care about your choice of color, but you don’t want your garden to be a hodgepodge of unrelated colors and textures.

Gardening Advice for Butterflies in Your Garden

The Butterfly Bush – As the name suggests it will attract butterflies and it will grow to about 4-6 ft. tall and wide.  It’s best to place it in full sun and use small, shorter perennials in front.  There are also dwarf Butterfly bushes, keep that in mind when visiting your local nursery.  They will go dormant during the cold season. But it will grow quickly once the spring season comes around.

Types of Plants that Attract Butterflies


Butterflies love Daisies

Not only do these plants provide great color they also attract butterflies. Shasta, Gerbera, African, and painted daisies will work great.  They range in height from 6″ to about 2 ft. tall. The USDA hardiness zones are 8 through 10, they are considered tender perennials in zone 7 and annuals where temperatures get below 32° Fahrenheit on a consistent basis during the winter seasons,

Types of Plants that Attract Butterflies
Colorful Daisies – Image by Lisa runnels from Pixabay

Lilacs Flowering Shrub– These are bushes and are hardy down to about -10°.  Most will grow about 6-7 ft. tall and 4-5 ft. wide. However, the blooms are short-lived in early spring and that’s about it.

Types of Plants that Attract Butterflies

Lavender – Yes, these plants attract butterflies. They are all kinds of Lavender from English to Spanish Lavender, and they all have fragrant flowers. They will bloom from mid-spring to late fall. Plant them in the foreground with yellow roses or any type of taller yellow flower.  It is best to plant them in full sun and use good loamy potting soil.  For longer-lasting flowers trim them once in late spring and they will re-bloom in summer.  These plants also repel mosquitoes.


Coneflower -(echinacea) Many varieties of the Coneflower plant and the most common is the Purple Coneflower.  It is drought-tolerant but will do better with regular watering, especially during the summer months.  Cut them back in late winter for larger bushier plants during the spring season.

Types of Plants that Attract Butterflies
Image by Rebecca Matthews from Pixabay

Lantana – There are many types of Lantanas and the most prolific blooming one is the Dallas Red variety.  I’ve seen butterflies swarm around this plant for months at a time.  It will grow about 3-5 ft. tall and wide.  Make sure you place them in full sun and water often during the first 1-2 years after planting. No pruning or deadheading is required, old blooms will expire followed by new ones week after week

Butterfly on a Lantana plant
Image by Yuo Zhoumel from Pixabay

Verbena – Blooms from about mid-spring to late fall.  It is considered a perennial in the lower elevations of the southwest.


Cosmos – The Cosmo plant is a cool plant as it has a plethora of colors.  Plant them in full sun and water often. 3-4 times per week during the mid-summer heat.  Perfect in a flowering garden it is an annual but sometimes they do come back the first year.


Plants that attract Butterflies
Cosmos flowers Image by cadop from Pixabay


Allysum – Also called the white Allysum (Lobularia maritima).  The white one is the most common and does not mind cold weather.  It grows about 2-3″ tall and is perfect for a small garden area.  Butterflies will swarm around this plant during the spring season.  Plant several of them together about 4-5″ apart for a nice carpet of small white flowers.

Alysum Plant
Alyssum White Flowering Plant. Image by PollyDot from Pixabay


Marigolds – These are easy fast growing tender perennials for the Southwest.  Plant in front of other taller plants or shrubs.   They do not require deadheading as the blooms will pop up when older ones fall off. Let them dry out before deep watering again.

Types of Plants that Attract Butterflies
Butterflies around tree and marigolds Image by Karen Arnold from Pixabay

Types of Plants that Attract Butterflies

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