Best Plants for Butterfly Gardens

Best Plants for Butterfly Gardens

Butterfly gardens are not just a feast for the eyes but also a vital habitat for these delicate creatures. By choosing the right plants, you can attract butterflies and provide them with food and shelter throughout their life cycle. Here’s a guide to some of the best plants you can grow to create a thriving butterfly garden right in your backyard.

A Butterfly on a plant
Best Plants for Butterfly Gardens


Milkweed (Asclepias spp.)

Milkweed is essential for monarch butterflies as it serves as the sole host plant for their larvae. Monarchs lay their eggs exclusively on milkweed, and the caterpillars feed on its leaves. Varieties like common milkweed (Asclepias syriaca) and butterfly weed (Asclepias tuberosa) are popular choices that also produce beautiful flowers that attract adult butterflies.

Butterfly Bush (Buddleja spp.)

True to its name, the butterfly bush is a magnet for butterflies, bees, and other pollinators. It produces long spikes of fragrant flowers in colors ranging from purple and blue to pink and white. This low-maintenance shrub blooms from summer to fall, providing a continuous source of nectar for butterflies.

Lantana (Lantana camara)

Lantana is a versatile plant that thrives in hot, sunny conditions and attracts butterflies with its clusters of vibrant flowers. It comes in various colors such as red, orange, yellow, and purple, often with multi-colored blooms on the same plant. Lantana is drought-tolerant once established, making it ideal for butterfly gardens in warmer climates.

Coneflower (Echinacea purpurea)

Coneflowers are not only a favorite of butterflies but also add a splash of color to your garden with their daisy-like blooms. They prefer full sun and well-drained soil and attract butterflies like the painted lady and various skippers. Coneflowers also provide seeds that attract birds, adding another dimension to your garden’s ecosystem.

Phlox (Phlox paniculata)

Phlox is a tall perennial with clusters of fragrant flowers that butterflies adore. They bloom in summer and come in shades of pink, purple, white, and red. Phlox prefers fertile soil and regular watering but will reward you with masses of blooms that butterflies cannot resist.

Verbena (Verbena bonariensis)

Verbena is prized for its airy clusters of small purple flowers that butterflies find irresistible. It blooms from summer to fall and grows well in both containers and garden beds. Verbena is drought-tolerant once established and attracts a variety of butterflies, including swallowtails and skippers.

Black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia hirta)

Black-eyed Susans are cheerful, daisy-like flowers with yellow petals and dark brown centers that attract butterflies and bees alike. They bloom from midsummer to fall and are drought-tolerant once established. Black-eyed Susans add a burst of color to any butterfly garden and are excellent for naturalizing in meadows or wildflower gardens.

Marigold (Tagetes spp.)

Marigolds are easy-to-grow annuals with bright, cheerful blooms that butterflies love. They come in shades of yellow, orange, and red and bloom continuously throughout the summer. Marigolds also help repel pests in the garden, making them a practical choice for both novice and experienced gardeners alike.

Creating Your Butterfly Garden

When planning your butterfly garden, aim to provide a variety of plants that bloom at different times of the year to ensure a continuous food source for butterflies. Incorporate plants of varying heights and textures to create sheltered areas for butterflies to rest and seek protection from predators and adverse weather.

Remember to avoid pesticides in your butterfly garden, as these can harm butterflies and their larvae. Instead, opt for organic gardening practices and encourage natural predators like ladybugs and lacewings to keep pest populations in check.

Final Thoughts

By choosing plants that cater to the needs of butterflies throughout their life cycle, you can create a haven that not only enhances the beauty of your garden but also supports these important pollinators. Whether you have a small balcony or a sprawling backyard, planting a butterfly garden is a rewarding way to contribute to biodiversity and enjoy the wonders of nature up close.

So, roll up your sleeves, pick your favorite plants, and get ready to welcome a kaleidoscope of butterflies to your garden!