To attract butterflies to your garden, plant both nectar producing and host plants. Adult butterflies feed from nectar producing plants and host plants provide female butterflies with egg-laying sites. Once the caterpillar hatches, it will eat from the host plant, so be prepared for some munching on those plants.
To attract a wide variety of butterfly species, plant an assortment of butterfly plant favorites. Plant masses of the same species of plant rather than singly to help the butterflies find the plants. As an additional attractant, place a pebble filled tray with water in the garden to provide the butterflies with drinking water.
Monarch butterflies migrate south to Mexico in the winter, but many butterfly species over-winter in our area. Some species hibernate as adult butterflies and seek protected places such as rock crevices, log hollows and roof eaves as the temperatures drop. Other species remain dormant in the larval (caterpillar) stage attached to dead leaves or pieces of wood. And some species of butterfly lay their eggs on host plants in the late fall; the eggs remain there until the spring when they hatch. During fall clean-up of the garden check your plants for eggs or larvae before removal. If you find any eggs or larvae, leave the plants undisturbed until spring.
In addition to the perennials listed below, butterflies rely on our native trees and shrubs for food and shelter. Some of the more common native plants found in our area (SE) are listed at the end of the perennial list.
Butterfly Favorites Available from Most Nurseries
|Botanical Name||Common Name||Bloom Period||Color|
|Achillea spp.||Yarrow||Summer||Pink, red, white|
|Asclepias tuberosa||Butterfly weed||Mid — late sum||Bright orange|
|Baptisia australis||False Indigo||Early — mid sum||Violet blue|
|Boltonia asteroides||False Aster||Summer||Lilac-pink|
|Campsis radicans||Trumpet Creeper||Summer — fall||Orange tubes with scarlet lobes|
|Caryopteris x clandonensis||Bluebeard||Summer — fall||Blue|
|Coreopsis spp.||Tickseed||Summer to frost||Yellow, red|
|Dianthus spp.||Daylily||Summer to fall||Various|
|Echinacea purpurea||Purple Coneflower||Summer||Pink-purple, white|
|Gaura lindheimeri||Gaura||Summer||Pink, white|
|Heliopsis helianthoides||False Sunflower||Summer||Yellow|
|Heuchera spp.||Coral Bells||Spring||Pink, white|
|Lavendula spp.||Lavender||Mid-sum — early fall||Lavender pink|
|Leucanthemum spp.||Shasta Daisy||Mid-sum — early fall||White|
|Nepeta subsessilis||Catmint||Mid-sum — early fall||Pink-purple|
|Penstemon digitalis||Beardtongue||Early — mid-sum||White tinged with pink|
|Penstemon x mexicali||Beardtongue||Early — mid-sum||Bright rose|
|Phlox spp.||Phlox, Thrift||Spring, Summer||Various|
|Rudbeckia fulgida||Black-eyed Susan||Summer — fall||Yellow with brown center|
|Salvia elegens||Pineapple Sage||Early to mid sum||Red|
|Salvia lyrata||Sage||Mid to late sum||Blue-purple|
|Salvia nemorosa||Meadow Sage||Early — late sum||Rose-pink, white|
|Sedum spp.||Stonecrop||Summer — fall||Pink, white|