10 Flowers that Attract Butterflies to Your Garden

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Everyone loves butterflies!

Butterflies are arguably the most beautiful insect around. Even people who hate bugs tend to admire and adore them.

It’s easy to see why they’re so loved: their wings. They create a rainbow of colors that dance as the butterfly flies. They shimmer and change color right before your eyes.

Butterfly wings have evolved to display beautiful colors for a few reasons. The bright colors can act as a camouflage among flower blossoms to protect butterflies from predators. Wings can also warn predators, saying “Don’t eat me! I taste bad!” Other butterflies have adopted colors that actually repel birds. Also, many species of butterflies use their stunning color palette as a way to recognize and attract a mate. In some cases, the colors can even act as a warning signal to other butterflies.

But butterflies aren’t only loved for their brightly colored wings! Many species aid the pollination process of your garden’s plants as they prance from flower to flower in search of nectar.

Butterflies are revered throughout culture in literary references and more. Their ability to transform from a simple caterpillar into a stunningly beautiful creature has been an inspiration for as long as humans have roamed the earth.

How to attract adult butterflies to your garden

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Just like plants, butterfly species will vary from region to region. It’s a good idea to figure out what butterflies live in your area before you start selecting flowers that attract butterflies. You can use this website to find out which butterflies live in your area.

Adult butterflies feed on nectar. To plant a thriving butterfly garden, you will need to include nectar-rich plants. These will attract hungry butterflies.

Their favorite feeding spot is where there is ample sun, but not too much wind. They enjoy sunbathing but are unable to do so if they are fighting the wind to stay on your plants!

Butterflies, like all animals, need water too. Consider digging a small puddle to encourage butterflies to drink. You will want to avoid setting up something larger like a bird bath, since birds feed on butterflies!

The best way to encourage butterflies to visit is to plant multiple nectar-producing plants. Butterflies have short life spans and flowers will blossom at different times. Try planting flowers that bloom throughout the season so butterflies will find food in your garden no matter the month. The more flowers you plant that attract butterflies, the greater variety you can get.

Regardless of your region, here is a general list of 10 great flowers that attract butterflies to your garden.

10 Flowers that Attract Butterflies

Butterfly Bush

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Zone Hardiness: 5-9

Types of Butterflies: Most Butterfly Species

As the name suggests, this plant is a favorite for butterflies. It blooms blue, purple, and white flowers all summer long. It is an easy shrub to care for. After a while it can overgrow, but luckily it grows back easily after being pruned.

Be careful, though. This plant is known for being invasive. If left unchecked, butterfly bushes will spread seed in the wind and take over native plants. To keep this from happening, deadhead the flowers as soon as the blooms are spent, all season long.

Phlox

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Zone Hardiness: 4-8

Types of Butterflies: Silver Checkerspot Butterfly

Phlox is a beautiful plant that features clusters of red, pink, lavender, salmon, and white blossoms. Phlox blooms throughout the summer so many different species of butterflies have the opportunity to visit and enjoy this plant.

Anise Hyssop

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Zone Hardiness: 4-10

Types of Butterflies: Most Butterfly Species

This flower is a gardener’s favorite. It blooms beautiful purple stalks of blossoms all throughout the late summer. Deer and rabbits won’t eat it, which leaves plenty for butterflies to enjoy.

Butterfly Weed

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Zone Hardiness: 4-9

Types of Butterflies: Monarch Butterfly

Don’t let the word “weed” discourage you. The butterfly weed got its name because it’s a type of milkweed. The bright orange flowers are a butterfly favorite! It’s another plant with clusters of blossoms which means more nectar and more butterflies. Caterpillars love them too. Caterpillars eat the “weed’s” leaves before they mature into a fully grown butterfly. This flower is a favorite for the beautiful Monarch Butterfly.

Aster

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Zone Hardiness: 3-8

Types of Butterflies: American Painted Lady, the American Snout, the Black Swallowtail, the Common Checkered Skipper, the Common Sulphur, the Orange Sulphur, the Painted Lady, the Question Mark, the Red Admiral, and the Sleepy Orange butterfly

There are a multitude of reasons why butterflies love the aster. They are delicious and nutritious for both caterpillars and adult butterflies. They are a cluster flower so there’s plenty of nectar to share. And, they are a crowd pleasing flower that comes in blue, purple, pink, red, and white.

Purple Coneflower/Echinacea purpurea

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Zone Hardiness: 3-9

Types of Butterflies: Common Wood-Nymph butterfly

Butterflies can’t resist the protruding, nectar-filled centers of these beautiful purple flowers. Gardeners love them too! The purple coneflower is very heat and drought tolerant so they’re sure to bloom almost all summer long.

Salvia

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Zone Hardiness: 4-9

Types of Butterflies: Most Butterfly Species

Salvias are great because they come in so many sizes and colors, but butterflies love them all! This tall stocky flower has blossoms all along the top so there is lots of nectar for the butterflies. This gorgeous flower comes in blue, purple, red, orange, and pink.

Lantana

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Zone Hardiness: 10

Types of Butterflies: Zebra Longwing Butterfly

This flower is another gardener’s favorite because it is so versatile. You can feature lantanas in flower beds, planters, or in a cut flower arrangement. Butterflies will visit your garden again and again since these flowers bloom all summer long.

Penta

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Zone Hardiness: 10-11

Types of Butterflies: Gulf Fritillary Butterfly

The penta is another flower that blooms in clusters, which butterflies can’t resist. And hummingbirds love them too!

Passion Flower

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Zone Hardiness: 6-9

Types of Butterflies: Gulf Fritillary Butterfly and the Zebra Longwing Butterfly

Our final selection is an exotic one. The passionflower is a vine with a most unusual but stunning flower that many species of butterflies like to visit. These nectar-filled blossoms will surely catch humans’ eyes too.

Have you had any success with your butterfly gardens? Comment below, we’d love to know where you are and what you planted!

Image Credits: Magnus ManskeDerek RamseyBenny Mazur