Butterflies and flowers were made for each other, and there are certain flowers that butterflies absolutely love to be around. As a French poet once pointed out, “butterflies are flying flowers, and flowers are tethered butterflies.” Here are the best plants to put in a butterfly garden!
In attracting butterflies to your garden, it’s important to understand what they want most out of life: nectar. The ancients, who believed that nectar fell directly from heaven, named it after the wines of the gods.
Keeping Your Garden Butterfly-Friendly
If you want to keep butterflies in your yard (and support these declining pollinators), it’s essential to include host plants where they can lay their eggs (some butterfly species are fussier than others as to what plants are best); once the larvae hatch, the host plants will serve as food for the developing caterpillars. To encourage butterflies to reside in your garden, it’s best to include food sources in the form of host plants for caterpillars and nectar plants for butterflies.
A butterfly’s wish list also includes sunny open spaces, shelter from the wind, and fresh water.
A monarch caterpillar feasting on milkweed.
Plants That Attract Butterflies
For caterpillars, consider plants like violets, milkweed, and asters. For butterflies, Joe-Pye weed, ironweed, yellow coneflowers, goldenrod, and brightly-hued asters are nectar-filled favorites. See our full plant list below.
|Common Name||Latin Name|
|Aromatic Aster||Symphyotrichum oblongifolium|
|Black Cherry||Prunus serotina|
|Blue Wild Indigo||Baptisia australis|
|Blueberry bushes||Vaccinium corymbosum,
|Grey Dogwood||Cornus racemosa|
|Joe-Pye weeds||Eupatoriadelphus fistulosus,
|New York Ironweed||Vernonia noveboracensis|
|Northern Spicebush||Lindera benzoin|
|Senna, American||Senna hebacarpa|
|Senna, Maryland||Senna marilandica|
|Trumpet Vine||Campsis radicans|
* now categorized as an invasive plant in many states.
Please let us know if we’re missing any of your favorite butterfly plants! Just comment below.