15 Plants That Will Attract Dragonflies to Your Garden

Are you looking to add some plants that will attract dragonflies to your garden this season? There are plenty of beautiful options that will have dragonflies paying you a visit all season. In this article, gardening expert Liessa Bowen walks through her favorite plants for bringing dragonflies to your garden this season.

plants that attract dragonflies

Dragonflies are commonly called the jewels of the air. Their brightly colored bodies shimmer in iridescent shades of blue, green, and red. If you live in a place that is open, sunny, and relatively close to water, there’s a good chance you have seen dragonflies in your yard. Dragonflies are beneficial insects as they can consume anywhere from tens to hundreds of mosquitoes per day.

Adult dragonflies are most active during the day, from summer through fall. They lay their eggs in water, like small ponds, shallow streams, and wetlands. After the eggs hatch, the aquatic nymphs live underwater for months (or even years) before emerging and molting into winged adults.

So, you’ve decided that you’d like to attract dragonflies to your yard season, but where do you start? If you don’t have a pond or wetland, you can still attract dragonflies by providing a sunny garden space with plenty of plants. Dragonflies have a habit of perching on isolated pieces of vegetation, such as pointed leaves and flower spikes, while scouting for their next insect meal.

They will also stop to rest on spent flowerheads, sticks, or bare twigs. Let’s take a deeper look at 15 garden plants that have characteristics attractive to dragonflies.

Asiatic Lily

Lilium spp
Asiatic Lily produces beautiful, showy flowers that thrive in full sun.
Scientific Name: Lilium spp.
  • Plant Type: Bulb
  • Geographic Origin: Asia
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun
  • Plant Size: 2-3 feet tall
  • USDA Plant Zone: 4-8

Asiatic Lilies have beautiful, showy flowers that come in a range of vibrant colors. These plants grow from bulbs and can be planted in early spring or fall. They prefer a sunny location with rich, well-drained soil.

Their upright growth habit would be attractive to dragonflies as a place to perch, especially if this plant were taller than surrounding plants. Unfortunately, Asiatic Lilies are a favorite of deer and rabbits, so may need special herbivore protection.

Aster, var “New York”

Aster novi-belgii
Aster prefers full sun and rich, moist soil.
Scientific Name: Aster novi-belgii
  • Plant Type: Herbaceous perennial
  • Geographic Origin: North America
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun
  • Plant Size: 3-5 feet tall
  • USDA Plant Zone: 4-8

The New York Aster is a wildflower that’s native to the eastern United States and grows quite tall. It has broader leaves at the base, getting smaller closer to the flowers.  These plants do best in full sun and rich, moist soil.

New York Asters bloom in the fall. Flowers are a beautiful shade of purple and appear in clusters atop tall, leafy stalks. They attract butterflies, other pollinators and are resistant to deer and rabbits. Dragonflies would enjoy perching on both the flowers and leaves of these attractive plants.

Borage

Borago officinalis
Borage blooms with graceful pale purple flowers in mid-summer, which attracts insects.
Scientific Name: Borago officinalis
  • Plant Type: Annual
  • Geographic Origin: Europe
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun to part shade
  • Plant Size: 1-3 feet tall
  • USDA Plant Zone: 2-11

Borage is an herb that also makes a unique and attractive addition to a flower garden. It blooms in mid summer with a tall, loose cluster of graceful pale purple star-shaped flowers. Plant stems and leaves, and even the flowers, are slightly fuzzy.

Borage is a low-maintenance plant that grows well in average soils and full sun. It is tolerant of deer and rabbits, and the flowers attract insects. Even though Borage is an annual, it will sometimes re-seed itself and grow back the following year.

Butterfly Milkweed

Asclepias tuberosa
This beautiful wildflower attracts butterflies, dragonflies and they are resistant to deer.
Scientific Name: Asclepias tuberosa
  • Plant Type: Herbaceous perennial
  • Geographic Origin: North America
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun
  • Plant Size: 1-2 feet tall
  • USDA Plant Zone: 3-9

Milkweed is a wonderful native wildflower for attracting insects. Not only is it the host plant for the Monarch butterfly caterpillar, adult butterflies and bees love it too. There are other varieties of Milkweed, such as Common Milkweed and Swamp Milkweed, that are also good options for a pollinator and dragonfly garden.

Butterfly Milkweed flowers are beautiful orange clusters that bloom through the summer. After flowering, long pointed seed pods develop which later open to reveal a fluffy white mass of seeds. This perennial is low-maintenance, easy to grow, resistant to deer and rabbits.

Cutleaf Coneflower

Rudbeckia laciniata
Cutleaf Coneflower produces bright yellow flowers from summer to autumn that attracts butterflies and other pollinators.
Scientific Name: Rudbeckia laciniata
  • Plant Type: Herbaceous perennial
  • Geographic Origin: United States
  • Sun Exposure: Sull sun
  • Plant Size: 2-6 feet tall
  • USDA Plant Zone: 3-9

Cutleaf Coneflowers are tall plants with yellow flowers. They do well in full sun and bloom summer through fall. They are native to the eastern United States and are well adapted to thrive with little maintenance.

The flowers attract butterflies and other pollinators. They spread readily, so be sure to give them plenty of space. Because of their tall stature and robust growth, these plants make a dramatic showing in a native wildflower garden.

Ironweed

Vernonia fasciculata
Ironweed produces clusters of bright purple flowers that are very attractive to insects.
Scientific Name: Vernonia fasciculata
  • Plant Type: Herbaceous perennial
  • Geographic Origin: North America
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun
  • Plant Size: 4-6 feet tall
  • USDA Plant Zone: 4-9

Ironweed is a native North American wildflower with dense clusters of intense purple flowers. It is low maintenance and prefers a sunny location and moist soil. It is even tolerant of brief flooding.

This plant is resistant to deer and rabbits, and very attractive to insects. It is a plant that grows well in ideal dragonfly habitat, and from the dragonfly perspective, offers plenty of suitable places to rest and watch for prey.

Joe Pye Weed

Eutrochium purpureum
Joe Pye Weed prefers to grow in open sunny areas with moist soils.
Scientific Name: Eutrochium purpureum
  • Plant Type: Herbaceous perennial
  • Geographic Origin: North America
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun to part shade
  • Plant Size: 5-7 feet tall
  • USDA Plant Zone: 4-9

Joe Pye Weed is a big, tall, wildflower native to eastern and central North America. It thrives in open sunny areas with moist soils. It can be found growing wild in places that dragonflies frequent. Be sure to give this giant plenty of space.

Joe Pye Weed is a perennial that starts blooming in spring, well into fall. It has a large cluster of small pinkish flowers atop a tall, upright, leafy stem. The flowers attract butterflies and other insects. Plants are tolerant of deer and rabbits.

Meadow Sage

Salvia pratensis
Meadow Sage produces attractive and fragrant clusters of small purple flowers.
Scientific Name: Salvia pratensis
  • Plant Type: Herbaceous perennial
  • Geographic Origin: Europe, western Asia, northern Africa
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun
  • Plant Size: 1-3 feet tall
  • USDA Plant Zone: 4-8

Equally at home in the herb garden or flower garden, the Meadow Sage is an attractive and fragrant herb. It blooms through the summer and into fall with tall spikes of small purple flowers. This plant is easily grown in a sunny location with average, well-drained soil.

Bees and butterflies are attracted to the flowers, and dragonflies may find the flower spikes an ideal place to perch. Plants are not bothered by deer and rabbits.

Pickerel Weed

Pontederia cordata
Pickerel Weed blooms with small spikes of purple flowers.
Scientific Name: Pontederia cordata
  • Plant Type: Herbaceous perennial
  • Geographic Origin: North America and Caribbean
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun
  • Plant Size: 2-4 feet tall
  • USDA Plant Zone: 3-10

Pickerel Weed is an aquatic plant that grows best in shallow ponds and wetlands. If you happen to have a water garden, you will likely also have dragonflies, and this would be an excellent addition to your water garden or rain garden.

Pickerel Weed blooms summer to fall with small spikes of purple flowers. The flowers attract butterflies and other insects, and dragonflies will stop to sun themselves on the leaves and flowers.

Pink Muhly Grass

Muhlenbergia capillaris
It blooms in autumn with pale pink flowers that attract pollinators and dragonflies.
Scientific Name: Muhlenbergia capillaris
  • Plant Type: Perennial ornamental grass
  • Geographic Origin: United States
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun to part shade
  • Plant Size: 2-3 feet tall
  • USDA Plant Zone: 5-9

This attractive grass adds variety and contrast to a sunny garden. Through most of the growing season, it grows into a dense, round, clump of thin blades. In the fall, the flowers appear, surrounding the entire plant with a delicate pink haze of blooms.

Pink Muhly Grass does best in a sunny spot with average, well-drained soil. It is resistant to deer and rabbits. Plants will expand over time and may occasionally reseed themselves. Be sure to give them plenty of space to reach their full potential.

Purple Coneflower

Echinacea purpurea
Purple Coneflower prefers to grow in full sun.
Scientific Name: Echinacea purpurea
  • Plant Type: Herbaceous perennial
  • Geographic Origin: North America
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun
  • Plant Size: 2.5-3 feet tall
  • USDA Plant Zone: 3-8

Native to central and eastern North America, this wildflower makes a great flower for dragonfly-friendly gardens. Coneflowers are easy to grow and low-maintenance. Purple Coneflowers grow best in sunny conditions with fertile soils. However, they can tolerate a range of soil qualities.

Blooming in the summer, the large purple-pink hued flowers attract butterflies and other pollinators. After blooming, seed-eating birds will come to feast on the seeds. Mature Coneflowers are resistant to rabbits and deer, although some herbivores may nibble young plants.

Rattlesnake Master

Eryngium yuccifolium
This unusual wildflower produces tall spikes with round spiny greenish-white balls that attract dragonflies and butterflies.
Scientific Name: Eryngium yuccifolium
  • Plant Type: Herbaceous perennial
  • Geographic Origin: United States
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun
  • Plant Size: 2-5 feet tall
  • USDA Plant Zone: 3-8

Rattlesnake Master is an unusual-looking native wildflower and makes quite a conversation piece in the garden. Blooming summer to fall, a tall flower spike with round, spiny, greenish-white orbs extends above a rosette of yucca-like leaves. Flowers attract butterflies and other insects. Dragonflies will find plenty of places to perch on this plant.

Rattlesnake Master is a low-maintenance plant that is easy to grow. It grows naturally in prairies and glades and is well-adapted to full sun and dryish soil. It is resistant to deer and rabbits.

Siberian Iris

Iris spp
Siberian Iris bloom in spring with purple, white and yellow flowers.
Scientific Name: Iris spp.
  • Plant Type: Herbaceous perennial, rhizome
  • Geographic Origin: Asia and Europe
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun
  • Plant Size: 1-3 feet tall
  • USDA Plant Zone: 3-8

There are several varieties of Siberian Iris available. Flowers bloom in the spring and may be purple, white, yellow, or bi-color. After the flowers die back, the attractive sword-like leaves remain for the duration of the growing season. These are low-maintenance plants that prefer sunny sites with moist soils.

Deer and rabbits don’t bother Siberian Iris, and they generally tend to be pest-free. Dragonflies may find the pointed leaf tips the perfect place to rest.

Tickseed

Coreopsis palmata
Tickseeds are wildflowers that bloom with delicate yellow flowers and attract butterflies and other pollinators.
Scientific Name: Coreopsis palmata
  • Plant Type: Herbaceous perennial
  • Geographic Origin: North America
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun
  • Plant Size: 1.5-2.5 feet tall
  • USDA Plant Zone: 3-8

Tickseed is a variety of Coreopsis that is native to North America. They are low-maintenance wildflowers that grace the garden in midsummer with delicate yellow blooms.

Tickseed does best in a sunny location with average soil and medium to dry moisture. These plants are tolerant of deer and rabbits. Flowers attract butterflies and other pollinators.

Yarrow

Achillea millefolium
Yarrow blooms in summer with white, yellow, or pink flowers that attract dragonflies and butterflies.
Scientific Name: Achillea millefolium
  • Plant Type: Herbaceous perennial
  • Geographic Origin: Europe, Asia, North America
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun
  • Plant Size: 2-3 feet tall
  • USDA Plant Zone: 3-9

Yarrow is a low-maintenance plant commonly found in flower gardens, fields, and roadsides. It is easy to grow and tolerant of a variety of less-than-ideal conditions. Yarrow will tend to spread over time, but can be easily contained by removing extra runners.

Yarrow comes in many varieties, that bloom in different shades of white, pink, and yellow. Flowers bloom in summer and attract butterflies and other insects. Leaves have a feathery texture, and can add pattern diversity to your flower garden. They are also typically rabbit and deer resistant.

Final Thoughts

Dragonflies are abundant and widespread. They require water to complete their life cycle because they have aquatic larvae. If you have a water garden, be sure to plant some emergent vegetation, as this will be used by both larvae and adult dragonflies.

Dragonflies are most attracted to open, sunny areas near water. They also fly far from water sources and can be seen zooming around in sunny parks, meadows, and gardens. They eat insects on the wing, particularly mosquitoes. Plants that attract dragonflies will be those that have isolated leaves or flower stalks that these beautiful insects will use to stop and rest, always on the lookout for smaller insect prey.

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