Expert Advice

Attract Butterflies to Your Garden

Posted on June 7, 2018

Alison Caldwell, CNLP
Horticultural Buyer

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.

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.

Moonshine Yarrow

‘Moonshine’ Yarrow

Yarrow is a great plant for butterflies, offering them a colorful resting place while they dine! Gone are the days of plain old gold. Now with varieties like paprika, pomegranate and pink grapefruit, there is a wide assortment of colors and sizes to add to your garden design.

False Aster is a wonderful addition to the summer border. Very neat in habit, its pale blue aster-like flowers cover the compact plant in June. Trimming spent flowers will invigorate the plant with new flowers throughout summer. Attracts butterflies, stands up to the heat and humidity. Also drought tolerant once established. 

Beebalm, or monarda are native cultivars that are attractive to not only butterflies but hummingbirds as well. It has fragrant foliage which is deer resistant, topped with amazing red, violet or lavender flowers. 




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.



Butterfly Weed

Butterfly Weed

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










Butterfly Bush




Shasta Daisy

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Alison Caldwell

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