Butterfly Gardening

The butterfly provides us with color, beauty, and a gentle reminder to slow down and enjoy the flowers. These garden visitors are a joy to watch and part of a healthy ecosystem, so why not provide the environment they need to thrive, right in your own yard.

Attracting butterflies is as simple as planting their favorite plants in a sunny location, protected from the wind. Some plants provide adults with nectar, while others are a food source for developing caterpillars. A variety of colors, heights, and blooming times will encourage butterflies throughout the season. They also benefit from a source of water by placing a shallow saucer filled with sand and water in the garden, and a having a nice flat stone in the sun for basking.

Be sure to limit the use of pesticides in the garden, as they are toxic to butterflies.

Butterflies tend to enjoy bright, tubular flowers, especially those with many small flowers arranged closely together, which are often daisy-like, and it’s helpful to plant a group of plants, rather than just one or two. Below is a list of perennials, annuals, trees, and shrubs that are beneficial to butterflies. If you extend the invitation, these wonderful creatures will gladly accept!

Monarch Butterflies and Milkweed

Monarch butterflies are known for their striking beauty and incredible annual migration, but unfortunately, their population has been in decline over the last 25 years. A number of factors contribute to this decline, but the biggest factor is the loss of plants that serve as food for the caterpillar and nectar sources for the butterfly adult.

We can help monarchs by planting the plants listed above, especially milkweed, which is the only plant on which monarch caterpillars feed, and is essential to their survival. There are several species of native milkweed, and any one of them is beneficial to monarch caterpillars. Again, planting a group of milkweed is more beneficial than only a few plants. Just be sure to purchase milkweed that is free of pesticides, since pesticides are toxic to butterflies and caterpillars.

Common Milkweed also occurs naturally and crops up in yards and gardens. It’s often treated like a weed, but it is extremely beneficial to the Monarch butterfly. People are encouraged to NOT pull or kill it, and allow it to grow for the benefit of Monarchs. It doesn’t cost anything and is an easy way to help an incredible and valuable species.

Plants for Attracting Butterflies
Perennials
Botanical Name
Common Name
Botanical Name
Common Name
AchilleaYarrowGeraniumHardy Geranium
AconitumMonkshoodHelianthusSunflower
AgastacheHyssopHeliopsisOrange Sunflower
AlceaHollyhockHemerocallisDaylily
AlliumOnionIberisCandytuft
AnemoneAnemoneKniphofiaRed Hot Poker
AngelicaGarden AngelicaLavandulaLavender
ArabisRockcressLiatrisGayfeather
ArtemesiaWormwoodLigustrumCommon Privet
AsclepiasButterfly WeedLilliumLily
AsterAsterLobeliaCardinal Flower
AstilbeGarden SpireaLupinusLupine
BaptisiaFalse Blue IndigoMonardaBee Balm
BuddleiaButterfly BushNepetaCatmint
CampanulaBellflowerOenotheraSundrops
CaryopterisBlue BeardPenstemonBeardstongue
CentaureaCornflowerPhloxPhlox
CentranthusRed ValerianPotentillaCinquefoil
ChelonePink TurtleheadsPrimulaPrimrose
CoreopsisTickseedPrunellaSelf Heal
CrocosmiaCrocosmiaRudbeckiaBlack-eyed Susan
DianthusCheddar PinksSalviaMeadow Sage
DicentraBleeding HeartScabiosaPincushion Flower
DigitalisFoxgloveSedumStonecrop
EchinaceaPurple ConeflowerSolidagoGoldenrod
EchinopsGlobe ThistleStokesiaStokes Aster
EryngiumSea HollyThalictrumMeadow Rue
EupatoriumJoe Pye WeedTrolliusGlobe Flower
GaillardiaBlanket FlowerVerbenaVerbena
GauraWhorling Butterflies'VeronicaSpeedwell
Annuals
Shrubs
Botanical Name
Common Name
Botanical Name
Common Name
AntirrihinumSnapdragonsAbeliaGlossy Abelia
CosmosCosmosAltheaRose-of-Sharon
HeliotropiumHeliotropeAzaleaAzalea
ImpatiensImpatiensIteaSweetspire
LantanaLantanaClethraSummersweet Clethra
MimulusMimulusRhododendronRhododendron
NicotianaFlowering TobaccoSalixWillow
PentasPentasSpiraeaSpiraea
PetuniaPetuniaSyringaLilac
SalviaSalviaViburnumViburnum
TagetesFrench MarigoldWeigelaOld Fashion Weigela
VerbenaVerbenaYuccaYucca
ViolaViolet
Vines
ZinniaZinnia
Botanical Name
Common Name
CampsisTrumpet Creeper
ClematisClematis
LoniceraHoneysuckle
PassifloraHardy Passion Vine
WisteriaWisteria
Plants for Caterpillars
Perennials
Trees
Botanical Name
Common Name
Botanical Name
Common Name
AnaphalisPearly EverlastingPrunusBlack Cherry
AntennariaPussytoesQuercusOak
AsclepiasMilkweedSalixWillow
AsterAster
Herbs
CheloneTurtlehead
Botanical Name
Common Name
ViolaVioletsAnethumDill
Native GrassesFoeniculumFennel
Shrubs
PetroselinumParsley
Botanical Name
Common Name
LinderaSpicebush
VacciniumBlueberry