Whether you want to design and build an elaborate butterfly garden or just put a few potted container plants that will attract butterflies on your patio, there are a wide variety of plants that will attract them. These are 10 plants that are easy to grow and are successful in attracting a wide variety of butterflies. To bring them in and keep them coming you will want to have a combination of nectar plants (for butterflies) and host plants (for caterpillars). Another thing to keep in mind is that if you are growing plants to attract butterflies, bees, or birds you want to avoid using chemicals or pesticides anywhere near your butterfly plant or garden as they can also harm the creatures you are trying to bring in.
10 Plants That Will Attract Butterflies To Your Garden
- Butterfly Weed – This wildflower is a brightly colored bushy plant that is a favorite of Monarch larvae. It grows large (2′ -3′) is fragrant and requires minimal maintenance and is ideal for zones 4-10.
- Marigold – Small, bushy and easy to care for, Marigolds are also thought to be mosquito repellent. They are strongly scented, plant them near tomatoes to deter pests.
- Firebush – This shrub can grow to be rather large and will also attract hummingbirds to your yard. It has a long growing season and the berries are a songbird favorite.
- Herbs (Parsley, Dill, Fennel, and Oregano) – Not only are they delicious for you to cook with, the butterflies find these herbs irresistible, especially to the Swallowtail. Parsley is a great herb to plant for swallowtail larvae (caterpillars) to munch on. Make sure to plant many bunches because once they start feeding it goes fast.
- Lantana – These hardy sun loving plants are a favorite and can be planted in the garden, in hanging baskets, or other containers. Like many flowers, Lantana blooms best in the sun.
- Petunia – Low growing and found in a variety of beautiful colors, Petunias are a great choice to attract butterflies, plant in containers or right into your garden.
- Milkweed – Attracts many varieties of butterflies and also hummingbirds. This is the only food that monarch larvae (caterpillars) will eat. There is a great movement to plant milkweed for Monarchs whose numbers are dwindling. You can even get free milkweed seeds sent to you to help feed and revive their population.
- Lavender – Besides bringing in winged friends, lavender will add an amazing scent to your yard. Gather flowers and dry them to make sachets, milk baths, and potpourri. Dry bunches upside down for a beautiful decoration.
- Salvia – Available in several colors (blue/purple, red, and I have even seen a beautiful red and white striped “Peppermint Salvia”). A great way to add color to your garden and it also attracts bees.
- Zinnia – Every garden should include these pretty and easy to grow flowers, which you can start from seeds or buy as plants at your local nursery. Lilliput Zinnias are an heirloom variety that are very popular with butterflies.
Provide water in shallow dishes with pebbles to rest on for your butterflies, and they will return to your yard over and over.