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Butterfly Attracting Plants

Butterfly Attracting Plants

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 for butterfly larvae (caterpillars). See our articles: Top 25 Butterfly Garden Plants and How to Build a Butterfly Garden.

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More Information About Butterfly Attracting Plants

About butterfly garden 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.

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.

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.

(What flowers attract butterflies?)

List of nectar and fruit plants for adult butterflies

  1. Achillea (Yarrow)
  2. Agastache (Hummingbird Mint)
  3. Ajuga (Bugleweed)
  4. Allium (Onion)
  5. Aloysia (Tree Verbena)
  6. Amorpha (Lead plant)
  7. Amsonia (Bluestar)
  8. Anisacanthus
  9. Aquilegia (Columbine)
  10. Aralia (Spikenard)
  11. Aruncus (Goatsbeard)
  12. Asclepias (Butterfly Flower, Butterfly Weed)
  13. Aster / Kalimeris
  14. Astilbe (False Spiraea)
  15. Begonia
  16. Belamcanda (Blackberry Lily) / xPardancanda
  17. Berlandiera (Chocolate flower)
  18. Buddleia (Butterfly Bush)
  19. Calamintha (Catmint) and Nepeta
  20. Campanula (Bellflower)
  21. Cardamine / Dentaria (Toothwort)
  22. Caryopteris (Blue Mist Shrub)
  23. Centranthus (Red Valerian)
  24. Ceratostigma (Leadwort)
  25. Chelone (Turtlehead)
  26. Chrysanthemum (Mum)
  27. Clematis
  28. Coreopsis (Tickseed)
  29. Cuphea (Cigar Plant)
  30. Cynara (Artichoke)
  31. Dahlia
  32. Delosperma (Ice Plant)
  33. Dianthus (Sweet William)
  34. Digitalis (Foxglove)
  35. Echinacea (Purple Coneflower)
  36. Erigeron (Fleabane)
  37. Eupatorium (Joe-Pye Weed)
  38. Farfugium (Leopard Plant) / Ligularia
  39. Gaillardia (Blanketflower)
  40. Gaura
  41. Geranium
  42. Gladiolus (Gladiola)
  43. Hemerocallis (Daylily)
  44. Heuchera (Coral Bells) / xHeucherella (Foamy Bells) / Tiarella (Foam flower) / Mitella
  45. Houstonia
  46. Hydrangea
  47. Iberis (Candytuft)
  48. Illicium (Anise Shrub)
  49. Iris
  50. Itea (Sweetspire)
  51. Kniphofia (Torch Lily)
  52. Lantana
  53. Lavandula (Lavender)
  54. Lespedeza (Bush Clover)
  55. Liatris (Wandflower)
  56. Lilium (Lily)
  57. Lobelia (Cardinal Flower)
  58. Lonicera (Honeysuckle)
  59. Lychnis (Catchfly)
  60. Monarda (Bee Balm)
  61. Myosotis (Forget-me-not)
  62. Narcissus (Daffodil)
  63. Nicotiana (Flowering Tobacco)
  64. Oenothera (Sundrops) / Calylophus
  65. Origanum (Oregano)
  66. Oxalis (Woodsorrel)
  67. Paeonia (Peony)
  68. Penstemon (Beardtongue)
  69. Perovskia (Russian Sage)
  70. Persicaria (Fleece Flower)
  71. Phlomis (Jerusalem Sage)
  72. Phlox
  73. Physostegia (Obedient Plant)
  74. Polygonatum (Solomon's seal)
  75. Polemonium (Jason's Ladder)
  76. Primula (Primrose)
  77. Pycnothymus (False Rosemary)
  78. Rosmarinus (Rosemary)
  79. Rudbeckia (Black-eyed Susan)
  80. Salvia (Sage)
  81. Saponaria (Soap wort)
  82. Scabiosa (Pincushion Flower)
  83. Sedum (Stonecrop)
  84. Silene (Catchfly)
  85. Silphium (Compass Plant)
  86. Solidago (Goldenrod)
  87. Stokesia (Stoke's Aster)
  88. Verbena (Vervain)
  89. Veronica
  90. Vernonia (Ironweed)
  91. Yucca (Spanish Dagger)

(What plants attract butterflies?)

List of butterfly host plants for larval food and egg laying 

  1. Alcea (Hollyhock) and other mallows such as Abutilon, Callirhoe, Gossypium, Hibiscus, Kosteletzkya, Malvaviscus, Napaea and Pavonia
  2. Agastache (Hummingbird Mint)
  3. Amorpha (Lead plant) and other Fabaceae such as Amicia, Astragalus, Bauhinia, Caesalpinia, Erythrina, Indigofera, Lespedeza, Sophora and Thermopsis
  4. Antirrhinum (Snapdragon)
  5. Arabis(Cress)
  6. Aralia (Spikenard)
  7. Aristolochia (Dutchman's Pipe)
  8. Artemisia (Wormwood)
  9. Asclepias (Butterfly Weed)
  10. Aster / Kalimeris
  11. Baptisia (False Indigo)
  12. Boehmeria (False Nettle)
  13. Buddleia (Butterfly Bush)
  14. Carex (Sedge)
  15. Chelone (Turtlehead)
  16. Cimicifuga (Cohosh)
  17. Conifers such as Chamaecyparis (False Cypress) and Juniperus (Juniper)
  18. Coreopsis (Tickseed)
  19. Cynara (Artichoke)
  20. Digitalis (Foxglove)
  21. Echinacea (Purple Coneflower)
  22. Echium (Bugloss)
  23. Euphorbia
  24. 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)
  25. Helianthus (Sunflower)
  26. Ilex (Holly)
  27. Illicium (Anise Shrub)
  28. Impatiens (Balsam)
  29. Lonicera (Honeysuckle)
  30. Lysimachia (Loosestrife)
  31. Rudbeckia (Black-eyed Susan)
  32. Ruellia (False-Petunia)
  33. Sabal (Palmetto Palm Tree)
  34. Sedum (Stonecrop)
  35. Solidago (Goldenrod)
  36. Tricyrtis (Toadflax)
  37. Ulmus (Elm)
  38. Verbena (Vervain)
  39. Viola (Violet)
  40. Zamia (Coontie Cycad)

Read our butterfly plant articles

Top 25 Butterfly Garden Plants - a list of our favorite butterfly plants
Baptisia - Revenge of the Redneck Lupines - US native butterfly garden flowers
Buddleia - The Butterfly Bush - about the top plants to attract butterflies

 And our many blog postings about flowers to attract butterflies