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.
- Butterfly Bush
- Purple Coneflower
- Day Lilies
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 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 Sciencemag.org 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.
Basically, the article pertains to areas where it does not freeze. If you live in non-freezing zones you should read the article above!
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 will grow quickly once the spring season comes around.
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,
Lilacs Flowering Shrub– Are basically a bush 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.
Lavender – Yes, these plants attract butterflies. They are all kinds of Lavender from English to Spanish Lavender 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 somewhat 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.
Lantana – There are many types of Lantana 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 one’s week after week
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 they have 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.
Allysum – Also called the white Allysum (Lobularia maritima). The white one is the most common and does not mind cold weather. Grows about 2-3″ tall and 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.
Marigolds – 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
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