31 Different Types of Plants That Will Consistently Attract Butterflies

Trying to find the perfect plants or flowers to plant in your home or garden to attract butterflies? Butterflies can have a wide number of different benefits, especially for pollination purposes. There are a number of different plant species that will have these beautiful insects flocking to your yard. In this article, we examine some of our favorites.

Butterflies are beautiful insects that most people love to see and are often associated with transformation and hope. But did you know there are certain plants that attract butterflies to your home or garden more frequently?

While there are obvious reasons certain birds are good to have in your garden to keep insects away, butterflies have their benefits as well, especially for pollination purposes. When you’re landscaping your yard, you have the option to decide to get plants that will attract butterflies.

But what plants attract butterflies best? Let’s take a deep dive into a number of different plants that will bring butterflies to your yard. Let’s jump in!

Lavender

Lavender Flowers With White Butterfly
There are many species of butterfly that are attracted to lavender.

Lavender is a beautiful purple plant that not only smells wonderful and has calming properties, attracts butterflies as well. Planting Lavender in your yard will add a natural air freshener, and you’ll soon see butterflies fluttering about.

The best way to bring butterflies to your yard is to have plants that have nectar the butterflies need for nutrients. Lavender produces sweet nectar butterflies love to consume, meaning that by growing lavender in your yard, you’ll soon start to see butterflies.

The butterflies primarily attracted to lavender are the Horace’s Duskywing and Western Tiger Swallowtail. The Horace’s Duskywing is a brown butterfly that looks more like a moth, and the Western Tiger Swallowtail has brown and yellow jagged lines on its body.  


Butterfly Bush

Butterfly Bush
Butterfly bushes attract butterflies but have been known to overtake gardens.

Adding the butterfly bush to your yard is another great way to attract butterflies. You may also know this plant by the names buddleja or buddleia. This shrub blooms in either pink, red, white, purple, or yellow, making them very attractive to butterflies.

Butterfly bushes grow quickly and will have several blossoms where butterflies will land. These shrubs will typically bloom from summer until fall, depending on where you live.

You’ll notice that some plants that attract butterflies only attract butterflies, whereas some support a vast array of insects. The butterfly bush falls in the former category – you will see butterflies visiting your garden, but you won’t see many, if any, caterpillars attracted to this plant.

The butterfly bush is a beautiful shrub, but you must keep in mind that this bush is considered an invasive species.

This shrub comes from China and has been known to overtake native plants. If you have the time to manage this shrub so that it doesn’t overcrowd other native plants in your yard, then it is a great addition.

However, these shrubs grow even quicker in warmer environments and can be more problematic to have than not. Thankfully, if the butterfly bush is too much to maintain, there are several alternatives you can add to your garden similar to the butterfly bush.


Swamp Milkweed

Swamp Milkweed With a Monarch
Swamp milkweed is the main source of food for butterflies.

If you know anything about butterflies, you know that one of their primary food sources is milkweed. For the most part, it doesn’t matter what type of milkweed, so adding any to your garden will draw butterflies in.

Swamp milkweeds are very fragrant flowers that not only make your yard smell lovely, but they’re not bad to look at. The clusters of flowers range in shades of pink to purple. You may have some swamp milkweed that’s softer pink, red, or even a reddish-purple color.

You’ll soon see a variety of butterflies landing on your swamp milkweeds, including the beautiful monarch butterfly.

While most butterflies only flock to swamp milkweed for the plant’s nectar, the monarch butterfly will also only lay eggs on milkweeds. Providing butterflies this space in your garden enables the entire lifecycle of butterflies to occur in one place.


Aster

Field of Aster Flowers
Asters play host to many caterpillars that eventually turn into butterflies.

Aster is a beautiful plant that sprouts vibrant purple flowers with yellow centers. However, how stunning they are is only part of their appeal.

Asters are pretty easy to maintain due to them requiring very little maintenance compared to other plants. When you plant them, they’ll need to be in an area with full sun, but they’re surprisingly resistant to droughts.

If you love the idea of planting a butterfly bush in your garden but aren’t prepared to deal with their invasive nature, asters are one of the several native alternatives to those shrubs.

Butterflies are generally attracted to asters, but you’ll find caterpillars on them much more often. Asters are hosts for several different species of caterpillar, and therefore, butterflies.


Heliotrope

Heliotrope With Butterfly
These sweet-smelling blossoms captivate butterflies of all kinds.

Heliotropes were previously trendy plants a few decades ago and are rising in popularity once again. Some may say that the surge in popularity has to do with how butterflies tend to gather near them.

Others may tell you that people are planting heliotropes again due to their pleasant smell. This plant has beautiful dark green leaves with purple and blue blooms. These blooms tend to smell like baby powder, vanilla, grapes, and cherry pie.

Certain plants only attract certain species of butterflies, but heliotropes seem to be a haven for several kinds. You may see red admirals, small tortoiseshell, and several other breeds of butterflies on your delicious-smelling heliotropes.


Oregano

Insect With Orange Wings on Oregano Blooms
Herbs, like oregano, give off aromas that attract both humans and butterflies.

Similar to humans, butterflies love various herbs. Adding oregano to your garden allows you to harvest the herb instead of buying it at the store and has the bonus of adding butterflies to your yard.

Oregano is the perfect plant to line your garden with if you’re looking to fill space. It’s easy to grow, and you’ll be harvesting the herb pretty frequently.

Swallowtail butterflies are regular visitors of oregano plants because they enjoy feeding on the nectar.

This plant brings not just swallowtail butterflies but swallowtail caterpillars too. When you grow oregano in your garden, you’ll be able to see the entire life cycle of these butterflies.


Blazing Star Flowers

Purple Blazing Star Flowers With Two Winged Insects
The blazing star flower also goes by the name Liatris or gayfeather.

Blazing star flowers, also known as Liatris, are native to North America and might be butterfly magnets. If neither of these names sounds familiar to you, this plant is alternatively known as gayfeather.

The reason butterflies and other pollinators love blazing star flowers is because the flowers on this plant have several small flowers that look like one large flower.

These clusters of smaller flowers leave your garden looking fuller with both flowers and butterflies. These flower clusters also provide a very comfortable landing pad for the insect.

There are more than 50 kinds of blazing star flowers. Blazing star flowers are easy to grow and even easier to maintain, making them the perfect addition to your butterfly garden.

Beginners love planting these flowers, and seasoned gardeners do too. The blossoms on this plant tend to be purple and white, making them the perfect plant to pair with several other plants butterflies love.

Blazing star flowers are known to attract the beautiful monarch butterfly, so it’s not unusual for you to see several of them fighting for space on these plants.


Pot Marigolds

Field of Pot Marigolds
These bright blooms are edible for humans as well as butterflies!

Pot marigolds are some of the most inexpensive plants that attract butterflies. They’re easy to take care of and easy to plant, making them a great plant to have children help you.

These flowers bloom in the summer, showcasing vibrant orange and yellow petals that match the summer weather well.

While they’re easy to grow and take care of, keep in mind that they’re prone to quickly dying in high levels of heat.

If you live in an area that gets excessively hot during the pot marigold’s blooming season, you may have a hard time keeping them alive and keeping butterflies coming to them for nectar.

Pot marigolds don’t need to be placed in direct sunlight all the time. Since they can thrive in a partially shaded environment, you have more luck keeping them alive during the excessive heat.

A unique quality of pot marigolds is that their leaves are safe for humans to eat! These brightly colored leaves look stunning in a salad and make for a great garnish in a summertime drink or meal.


Bee Balm

Monarch Landing on a Purple Bee Balm
Swallowtail butterflies especially love bee balm blooms.

Bee balm is another excellent plant to draw butterflies to your yard and an alternative to the invasive butterfly bush. Bee balm, which is also named monarda fistulosa, is native to the United States and mainly attracts swallowtail butterflies.

While swallowtail butterflies are the most common butterflies seen with bee balm, you’ll likely see a variety of others as well because it’s full of nectar.

Bee balm is another lovely purple plant that will bloom in July and thrive throughout the fall months.

One of the most significant benefits of planting bee balm in your yard is that they remain in bloom for most of the year, only losing their flowers during the winter. Flowers will bloom again in the spring after the cold has passed.


Butterfly Weed

Monarch on Butterfly Weed
As with most milkweed varieties, butterfly milkweed is known for attracting butterflies.

Butterfly weed is sometimes called orange milkweed. The plant is bushy and has large clusters of orange flowers, which are sure to turn heads. The groups of orange and sometimes yellow flowers are about two to five inches across and make for the perfect place for butterflies to feast comfortably on nectar.

Even though people often refer to butterfly weed as orange milkweed, it’s important to note that, unlike traditional milkweed plants, the butterfly weed doesn’t have any milky sap.

Since butterfly weed belongs to the same family as other milkweed plants, you can expect to find caterpillars roaming your garden as well as butterflies.

Butterfly weed is known to attract the larvae for the monarch, queen, and grey hairstreak butterflies.


Black-Eyed Susans

Monarch on Black-Eyed Susan Bloom
Black-eyed Susans are a popular plant in general but also amongst those trying to create a butterfly garden.

These flowers resemble daisies in many ways, with dark centers and bright yellow petals two to three inches wide.

They are a gorgeous plant in your garden, and they’re just as stunning in a vase in your house. If you decide to cut some of these flowers to bring inside, they typically live for six to ten days before beginning to wilt.

One of the main reasons butterflies are attracted to black-eyed Susans is because these flowers give them a solid platform to land on. As light as butterflies are, they don’t need to worry about tilting the flower as they land on them for nectar.

Black-eyed Susans bring a variety of butterflies to your yard. These flowers are known for attracting Gorgone checkerspot butterflies and bordered patch butterflies.

Don’t be surprised if you see the caterpillars that transform into these butterflies hanging around your garden, too.


Fennel

Yellow Insect on Fennel Blossom
Butterflies and many other insects are intrigued by fennel.

Herbs are the perfect addition to your butterfly garden because not only do they bring beautiful butterflies, but you get some use out of the plants too. Fennel is a popular herb that can grow up to five feet in height and attracts several butterflies.

It’s not entirely sure why butterflies and other insects are so drawn to fennel, but once you plant it, you’ll begin to see them congregate around the plant.

Experts recommend that if you’re planning to harvest the fennel for yourself, you plant them in two separate sections—one that you will use for harvesting and keeping trim and the other where butterflies can gather.

The reason behind this is that caterpillars tend to cocoon near fennel, and if you’re trying to bring more butterflies to your yard, disturbing the cocoons is one way to ensure that they won’t return.


Salvia

Orange Winged Insect on Purple Salvia
Salvia comes in a variety of bright colors.

When you’re considering planting salvia in your yard, you’ll have a variety of types to choose from. There’s autumn sage, Mexican bush sage, mountain sage, and more. Regardless of the salvia plant you prefer, you can expect to have some butterfly visitors in your garden.

Depending on the salvia plant you choose, you’ll have blooms that boast pink, red, purple, and green colors. Any color will look majestic in your garden and be appealing to butterflies and some moths.

Salvia plants are great at attracting plenty of butterfly species to your garden. People who have these plants in their yard have reported seeing various kinds of swallowtails, skippers, monarchs, gulf fritillaries, and mourning cloak butterflies.


Pentas

Red Pentas Plant With Butterfly
Pentas flowers have five petals and can grow to be red, pink, or white.

The Penta is a shrub with flowers that can grow to be six feet tall and three feet wide. Some people call them Egyptian stars due to the shape of the blooms, but the name is interchangeable with pentas.

The blooms on pentas are traditionally pink, white, or red; however, cultivators have developed new blooms that combine these colors. This includes pink pentas with red centers and even lavender flowers.

When you’re adding pentas to your yard, you’ll want to plant them in a container or planter to ensure they thrive as they should.

Overall, these plants are slow growers, but they’re worth it once they do. They’re perfect for attracting butterflies, relatively low-maintenance, and aren’t prone to many diseases.

Pentas have a substantial nectar source for several butterflies and other pollinators. Once your pentas bloom, you’ll be able to see plenty of swallowtails, monarchs, gulf fritillaries, and orange-barred sulfur butterflies landing on this plant.


Lantana

Lantana Attracting a White Butterfly
Lantanas are vibrant flowers that make for the perfect place for butterflies to land and feast on the sweet nectar.

Butterflies tend to prefer plants that provide them a solid place to land, and with lantana’s clusters of tiny flowers, this makes it one of the best plants to attract butterflies.

The small clusters of flowers come in bright colors like yellow, purple, pink, and orange. Often the collections combine two or more of these colors, making it a truly unique looking plant in your garden.

Lantanas are easy to grow, and you can plant them in the ground, in planters, or even containers which you can hang from a hook in your garden. Hanging them provides an even more unique setup in your future butterfly garden.

Depending on where you live, you’ll see a wide range of butterflies flocking to your lantanas. You’ll see queen butterflies, monarch butterflies, red admirals, and much more.


Chocolate Cosmos

Chocolate Cosmos With Orange Butterfly
Chocolate cosmos are named as such because of their chocolaty smell, which is appealing to butterflies.

The chocolate cosmos may not taste like chocolate, but they do smell like chocolate. These flowers are native to Mexico, boast a dark red and brown color, and emit a delicious chocolatey smell. They’re very visually appealing flowers to humans.

Being native to Mexico, they’re resistant to harsh weather and can tolerate a substantial amount of heat. Planting chocolate cosmos in your yard is reasonably straightforward and almost as easy to care for.

If you’re considering planting them in your garden, they make the perfect plant to place along the edges so that you can smell their aroma throughout the area.

While most butterflies prefer very vibrant colored flowers, the darker color of the chocolate cosmos is not a deterrent.  They love the nectar, especially monarch butterflies, and you’ll see butterflies floating around your garden where the chocolate cosmos are planted. However, as appealing as these plants are to butterflies, they will not attract caterpillars.


Sunflowers

Sunflower With Butterfly
Bright sunflowers can grow to be quite large, creating lots of space for butterflies to land.

Sunflowers are the favorite flower of many people and, as it turns out, many butterflies. They are easy to plant and care for, which is why they are a favorite of gardening beginners, including children.

As you probably know by now, butterflies love flowers and plants that provide them a sturdy place to land on. Sunflowers are rather large flowers and have a sturdy center that butterflies can land on.

Butterflies aren’t the only insect that loves sunflowers. Several species of caterpillars enjoy eating sunflowers.

While it may be nice to see caterpillars eating and eventually making a cocoon in your garden, you’ll want to monitor your sunflowers for long-term damage from the caterpillars. If caterpillars cause too much damage, there won’t be any viable sunflowers for the butterflies to land on.

Some sunflowers can grow to be 14 feet tall! That may not be ideal for your butterfly garden, so be sure to look for the smaller variety that can grow much shorter – only about a foot in height is best.


Firebush

Firebush With Winged Insect
The sweet nectar of firebush plants attracts both butterflies and hummingbirds.

Firebush is a perennial shrub that’s native to South Florida, South America, and Central America. Firebush has a few other names, including Mexican firebush, scarlet bush, firecracker shrub, and hummingbird bush.

Even though it’s commonly known as a hummingbird bush, it doesn’t only attract hummingbirds. Firebush is known for bringing butterflies wherever it’s planted.

The shrub has greenery, and the flowers are small, red, and orange. Since firebush is native to hotter parts of the world, it thrives in warmer environments and blooms in early spring. 

In areas where the plant is native, it can grow to be 15 feet tall. But, when planting it in your yard, you can easily manage the size by trimming it as necessary. If you don’t live in an area where the plant is native, it shouldn’t grow to be 15 feet in the first place.

Some of the butterflies you’ll see floating around your firebush include gulf fritillaries and zebra longwings.


Blue Star

Blue Star Flowers
These plants are easy to care for and can grow in about any climate.

Blue stars are a type of wildflower that butterflies can’t help but be attracted to. These flowers usually thrive as long as they have sunlight, so you don’t need to worry about them getting too much when you plant them in your yard.

These flowers are traditionally blue but may boast shades of yellow during the autumn months.

If you live in an area with deer, you can rest easy with blue stars in your garden. They’re resistant to the damage from deer and other herbivores.


Phlox

Butterfly With Bright Pink Phlox
Phlox flowers bloom in bright colors that draw attention to butterflies.

The Phlox is a star-shaped flower that is native to North America. They tend to bloom in early spring, while some will bloom in the middle of summer.

There are various kinds of phlox, such as the candy stripe that is pink and white or the emerald blue phlox that creates blue and lilac flowers.

Regardless of the type of phlox you choose to plant in your yard, you can expect butterflies and other pollinators to make an appearance.

If you plan on planting phlox in your yard, be sure to look for a mildew-resistant one to save yourself some trouble down the line.


Daylily

Butterfly Landing on Pink Daylily
Daylilies are very easy to grow and maintain in a garden.

Daylilies have been a popular choice for gardeners for centuries. Initially, there were only 15 species of daylilies which were all native to Europe. Now, there are more than 35,000 hybrid species.

As with many other plants that attract butterflies, daylilies are easy to manage. Some people even suggest that these plants can survive some level of neglect before dying.

These flowers bloom into a beautiful mesh of red and orange, making them attractive to butterflies.

When you’re planting daylilies in your yard, you’ll want to plant them somewhere that they’ll get about six hours of sunlight a day.


Hollyhocks

Hollyhocks in a Garden
Hollyhocks come in a variety of beautiful colors and can grow to be nine feet tall.

The hollyhock is a combination of flowers and other plants that belong to the mallow family. There are several kinds of hollyhocks.

Some can grow as high as nine feet tall, while some are for ground cover. You’ll find hollyhocks that are purple, white, black, yellow, apricot, pink, and red. With such a wide range of color options, there’s a hollyhock for everyone’s garden.

When you have hollyhocks in your garden, you’ll see butterflies and caterpillars visiting. Caterpillars will attach themselves to the hollyhock stems so they can drink the nectar.

While caterpillars are a clear sign of butterflies, too many of them may bring damage to your plants.


Coneflower

Pink Coneflower
There are many varieties of butterflies that are drawn to coneflowers.

Coneflowers, better known as echinacea, are flowers that will attract butterflies, bees, and various birds to your yard. When these plants bloom, they have cone-line centers, hence the name. Inside the cone-line center are seeds that draw butterflies, bees, and birds to the blooms.

This plant grows quickly and will bloom from summer until the first frost. They’re perfectly capable of taking the heat and can go a little while without watering too.

Some of the butterflies you’ll find near your coneflowers include swallowtails, monarchs, fritillaries, and painted ladies.


Cardinal Flower

Monarch on Cardinal Flower
The cardinal flower gets their name from the vibrant red blossoms.

Cardinal flowers are red, and each flower has three lower petals and two upper petals with a tubular base.

They’re considered wildflowers, and since they’re stunning, over-picking has been an issue. But, you plant your own in your garden to attract butterflies.

Hummingbirds are often near cardinal flowers since they can easily stick their beaks inside the tubular cone for nectar.

Some butterflies don’t have an issue doing this. These flowers will bloom during the summertime, and if you trim the spikes, it can encourage new buds to grow.


Sea Holly

Butterflies on Sea Holly
Many butterflies are drawn to the unique-looking sea holly.

Sea holly is by far one of the most unique and beautiful plants you can add to your yard. The flowers are a stunning silver and blue color and will make you the envy of the block and popular with butterflies.

Sea holly has a long bloom time, and if you want to put some in a vase in your house, they last for several days before wilting.

Most sea holly is silver and blue, but some varieties come in bright green, white, and purple. Regardless of the color, they’ll bloom in summer and fall. They smell lovely, and butterflies think so too.

When you combine sea holly with other plants that attract butterflies, you’ll be surprised at how often butterflies are visiting your yard.


Floss Flower

Floss Flower With Black Winged Insect
The floss flower will require more attention than some of the other flowers on this list.

Floss flowers are mainly blue, although you may find some purple, white, or pink varieties.

When caring for floss flowers, you need to keep them hydrated. These plants are prone to dehydrating, and a dehydrated flower isn’t welcoming to butterflies.

As long as you keep your floss flowers watered and in full view of the sun, you should be good to go. One thing to keep in mind about floss flowers is that they can harm your other flowers like a weed if they are not popularly separated.


Joe-Pye Weed

Monarch With Joe-Pye Weed
The aromatic nectar from the Joe-Pye weed is loved by many butterflies.

The late-blooming wildflower, Joe-Pye weed, originates from eastern and central North America. The stems on this plant can reach a foot long and produce clusters of flowers.

These flowers are generally a light pink color and smell of sweet vanilla, drawing in a number of butterflies.

Your yard will smell as if you just baked a fresh dessert while butterflies flit around. Joe-Pye weed doesn’t do well in the cold, so you’ll want to plant it in the spring when the frost is gone.


Sedum

Pink Sedum
Several varieties of butterflies are attracted to the lovely sedum plant.

Sedum is a hardy plant that is suitable for almost any style of garden and comes in pink, yellow, and purple shades. There are many kinds of sedum, but it’s easiest to classify them into low-growing and upright sedum.

Both types of sedum are attractive to butterflies. With sedum in your yard, you’ll see silver-spotted skippers, monarchs, painted ladies, gray hairstreaks, and several more.


Agapanthus

Butterflies Love Agapanthus Flowers
These summer blossoms look like mini lily flowers, but they are not lilies.

Agapanthus originally comes from South Africa and is excellent for attracting butterflies. Some people may call agapanthus “Lily of the Nile” or another name with the word “lily” in it, but agapanthus is not a lily.

These plants have cooler shades. You’ll see agapanthus with white petals, light blue, and dark purple. These plants can be any shade from those three colors. They thrive during the summer and anywhere with warm weather.


Allium

Beautiful Butterfly on Purple Allium Blooms
Allium clusters form an orb shape, which makes them unique.

Ornamental opinion, or Allium, is an exciting plant you can add to your garden to attract butterflies. When the plant blooms, the cluster of petals forms an orb shape, making it a safe place for butterflies to land and drink nectar.

Even with butterflies and other pollinators landing on the cluster of flowers, the plant will maintain its shape throughout the season.

You can find allium in several colors, forms, and heights, but they’re all loved by butterflies regardless. Tiger swallowtails and red admirals particularly favor them.


Goldenrod

Red Winged Insect on Goldenrod Blossoms
Goldenrods serve as an alternative to milkweed for butterflies.

Goldenrods boast fluffy yellow flowers that brighten up a summer landscape. Milkweed is the primary nectar source for monarch butterflies and others, but they tend to face a shortage during the fall.

Planting goldenrods in your garden provide a much-needed food source for these insects when they cannot find milkweed.

As beautiful as goldenrods are, they can sometimes be a weed. You’ll need to keep an eye on this plant to ensure it’s not causing an issue for your other plants.

Final Thoughts

Creating a space where butterflies congregate may seem complicated, but it doesn’t have to be. Choosing plants that have nectar is the best way to attract butterflies.

Whether you’re searching for only one type of plant or the perfect combination to suit your style, there are dozens of plants that attract butterflies.

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