Expert Advice

Attract Butterflies to Your Garden

Posted on June 6, 2017


Alison Caldwell, CNLP
Horticultural Buyer
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Every gardener is thrilled when a beautiful butterfly lands in their yard and lingers on the blossoms they find. Butterflies are graceful, almost angelic insects that bring a feeling of peace and tranquility to any garden.

Butterfly Bush

Butterfly Bush

To attract butterflies to your garden, plant masses of colorful flowers that bloom at different times throughout the summer. Choose nectar-rich flowers as well as leafy plants for when butterflies are in their caterpillar stage.

Tall and stately foxglove and delphinium add a touch of drama to the butterfly garden. With their spires of color it is easy to see what butterflies are dropping by for a visit. Coneflowers, daisies and black eyed Susan are also very popular with the butterfly crowd with the center cone or eye of the flower acting as a landing pad for our winged friends. 

If you want to attract butterflies to a shady spot in your garden try hosta and some of the many colorful coral bells.  The dainty flowers are held high above the foliage making it easy to spot butterflies from a distance.

 

Delphinium Perennial Flower

Delphinium

Some of our favorite plants for attracting butterflies are in the Asclepias, or milkweed, family.

The first is Asclepias tuberosa or butterfly weed (I love saying the Latin name – it sounds like a spell from Harry Potter). Butterfly Weed is a native plant that is deer resistant and prefers dry soil.  While growing just 18-24” it packs a punch in the garden July through August when it is covered with brilliant orange flowers.

The second group is Asclepias incarnata, or Showy Swamp Milkweed.  As the name may have given away, this type prefers moist soil and grows 3-4’ tall.  When showy swamp milkweed blooms July – August it is covered with pink flowers which provide food for the Monarch butterflies while also acting as a host plant, providing shelter for the weary travelers.

Whichever type fits your garden scheme they are sure to please our fluttering friends and brighten your mid-summer borders.

 

Other Plants that Attract Butterflies

Bee Balm

Black Eyed Susan

Coneflower

Coreopsis

Daylily

Gaillardia

Liatris

Yarrow

Lantana

Zinnia

Abelia

Butterfly Bush

Clethra

Lilac

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