Butterfly plants can be categorized into two types. The first type of butterfly plant has flowers that provide nectar or fruit for adult butterflies, and the second type are butterfly host plants that provide food for butterfly larvae (caterpillars).

See our in-depth butterfly related articles for additional tips and information: Top 25 Butterfly Garden Plants and How to Build a Butterfly Garden.

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More Information About Butterfly Attracting Plants

About Butterfly Plants

Many people love to garden because they enjoy nature and the beauty of plants. In addition, some flowering plants attract brightly colored wildlife to the garden whose kinetic energy and flashing colors greatly add to the visual appeal of the garden. Butterflies are the most prized gardening accessory and we have searched through our enormous database of perennials to create this collection of the best butterfly attracting flowers for gardens.

What Flowers Attract Butterflies?

There are two types of butterfly attracting plants. The first type have flowers that provide nectar or fruit for adult butterflies, and the second type are host plants for butterflies that provide food (leaves, pollen, etc.) for butterfly larvae (caterpillars). Each butterfly species has a small set of plants they prefer, so good butterfly gardens will contain a wide variety of butterfly attracting flowers to bring in the most diverse mix of lepidopterons (that's science talk for butterflies).

As a general rule, the best butterfly attracting flowers produce clusters of colorful, tubular flowers. You should plant butterfly attracting plants together in large groups to provide an all-you-can-eat buffet for butterflies. Mix up the flowering dates so that your butterfly flowers provide food all year long. In addition to plants, a good butterfly garden will provide shallow pools of drinking water, some flat stones for basking, and some shady, protected spots for butterflies to cool-down in and escape high winds. Remember not to spray insecticides on your plants for butterfly garden in order to preserve the adults and caterpillars. In fact, good butterfly gardens should be well-chewed up.

Where to Buy Butterfly Plants?

The following is a list of the best flowers that attract butterflies available at Plant Delights Nursery. The list is divided into nectar plants and larval butterfly host plants so when you design your butterfly garden, choose a variety of plants that attract butterflies from the nectar column and from the larvae column. When you are ready to buy butterfly attracting flowers for your butterfly garden, you can use the list below.

Flowers that Attract Butterflies

List of nectar and fruit plants for adult butterflies

  • Achillea (Yarrow)
  • Agastache (Hummingbird Mint)
  • Ajuga (Bugleweed)
  • Allium (Onion)
  • Aloysia (Tree Verbena)
  • Amorpha (Lead plant)
  • Amsonia (Bluestar)
  • Anisacanthus
  • Aquilegia (Columbine)
  • Aralia (Spikenard)
  • Aruncus (Goatsbeard)
  • Asclepias (Butterfly Flower, Butterfly Weed)
  • Aster / Kalimeris
  • Astilbe (False Spiraea)
  • Begonia
  • Belamcanda (Blackberry Lily) / xPardancanda
  • Berlandiera (Chocolate flower)
  • Buddleia (Butterfly Bush)
  • Calamintha (Catmint) and Nepeta
  • Campanula (Bellflower)
  • Cardamine / Dentaria (Toothwort)
  • Caryopteris (Blue Mist Shrub)
  • Centranthus (Red Valerian)
  • Ceratostigma (Leadwort)
  • Chelone (Turtlehead)
  • Chrysanthemum (Mum)
  • Clematis
  • Coreopsis (Tickseed)
  • Cuphea (Cigar Plant)
  • Cynara (Artichoke)
  • Dahlia
  • Delosperma (Ice Plant)
  • Dianthus (Sweet William)
  • Digitalis (Foxglove)
  • Echinacea (Purple Coneflower)
  • Erigeron (Fleabane)
  • Eupatorium (Joe-Pye Weed)
  • Farfugium (Leopard Plant) / Ligularia
  • Gaillardia (Blanketflower)
  • Gaura
  • Geranium
  • Gladiolus (Gladiola)
  • Hemerocallis (Daylily)
  • Heuchera (Coral Bells) / xHeucherella (Foamy Bells) / Tiarella (Foam flower) / Mitella
  • Houstonia
  • Hydrangea
  • Iberis (Candytuft)
  • Illicium (Anise Shrub)
  • Iris
  • Itea (Sweetspire)
  • Kniphofia (Torch Lily)
  • Lantana
  • Lavandula (Lavender)
  • Lespedeza (Bush Clover)
  • Liatris (Wandflower)
  • Lilium (Lily)
  • Lobelia (Cardinal Flower)
  • Lonicera (Honeysuckle)
  • Lychnis (Catchfly)
  • Monarda (Bee Balm)
  • Myosotis (Forget-me-not)
  • Narcissus (Daffodil)
  • Nicotiana (Flowering Tobacco)
  • Oenothera (Sundrops) / Calylophus
  • Origanum (Oregano)
  • Oxalis (Woodsorrel)
  • Paeonia (Peony)
  • Penstemon (Beardtongue)
  • Perovskia (Russian Sage)
  • Persicaria (Fleece Flower)
  • Phlomis (Jerusalem Sage)
  • Phlox
  • Physostegia (Obedient Plant)
  • Polygonatum (Solomon's seal)
  • Polemonium (Jason's Ladder)
  • Primula (Primrose)
  • Pycnothymus (False Rosemary)
  • Rosmarinus (Rosemary)
  • Rudbeckia (Black-eyed Susan)
  • Salvia (Sage)
  • Saponaria (Soap wort)
  • Scabiosa (Pincushion Flower)
  • Sedum (Stonecrop)
  • Silene (Catchfly)
  • Silphium (Compass Plant)
  • Solidago (Goldenrod)
  • Stokesia (Stoke's Aster)
  • Verbena (Vervain)
  • Veronica
  • Vernonia (Ironweed)
  • Yucca (Spanish Dagger)

List of butterfly host plants

These butterfly host plants provide a home for butterflies to lay their eggs and a food source for the butterfly larvae, or caterpillars. Don't worry, a little munching by caterpillars is not usually too harmful to butterfly plants that are well established.

  • Alcea (Hollyhock) and other mallows such as Abutilon, Callirhoe, Gossypium, Hibiscus, Kosteletzkya, Malvaviscus, Napaea and Pavonia
  • Agastache (Hummingbird Mint)
  • Amorpha (Lead plant) and other Fabaceae such as Amicia, Astragalus, Bauhinia, Caesalpinia, Erythrina, Indigofera, Lespedeza, Sophora and Thermopsis
  • Antirrhinum (Snapdragon)
  • Arabis(Cress)
  • Aralia (Spikenard)
  • Aristolochia (Dutchman's Pipe)
  • Artemisia (Wormwood)
  • Asclepias (Butterfly Weed)
  • Aster / Kalimeris
  • Baptisia (False Indigo)
  • Boehmeria (False Nettle)
  • Buddleia (Butterfly Bush)
  • Carex (Sedge)
  • Chelone (Turtlehead)
  • Cimicifuga (Cohosh)
  • Conifers such as Chamaecyparis (False Cypress) and Juniperus (Juniper)
  • Coreopsis (Tickseed)
  • Cynara (Artichoke)
  • Digitalis (Foxglove)
  • Echinacea (Purple Coneflower)
  • Echium (Bugloss)
  • Euphorbia
  • Ornamental Grass such as Chasmanthium (Sea-Oats), Cortaderia (Pampas-Grass), Eragrostis (Love-Grass), Miscanthus (Maiden-Grass), Muhlenbergia (Muhly-Grass), Panicum (Panic-Grass), Phormium (New Zealand Flax), Saccharum (Sugar Cane), and Schizachyrium (Bluestem)
  • Helianthus (Sunflower)
  • Ilex (Holly)
  • Illicium (Anise Shrub)
  • Impatiens (Balsam)
  • Lonicera (Honeysuckle)
  • Lysimachia (Loosestrife)
  • Rudbeckia (Black-eyed Susan)
  • Ruellia (False-Petunia)
  • Sabal (Palmetto Palm Tree)
  • Sedum (Stonecrop)
  • Solidago (Goldenrod)
  • Tricyrtis (Toadflax)
  • Ulmus (Elm)
  • Verbena (Vervain)
  • Viola (Violet)
  • Zamia (Coontie Cycad)

Learn More About Butterfly Plants and Flowers

Top 25 Butterfly Garden Plants - A large list of our favorite butterfly plants that will keep the butterflies coming back all summer long.
Baptisia - Revenge of the Redneck Lupines - One of our favorite U.S. native butterfly garden flowers.
Buddleia - The Butterfly Bush - In our opinion, the absolute best plants to attract butterflies. How to Build a Butterfly Garden - We explore the key elements of creating the perfect butterfly habitat.

Be sure to check out our many blog posts about flowers to attract butterflies.