Flowers, Pollinators, Summer Gardening

Best Butterfly Plants for Attracting Butterflies To Your Garden (And Keeping Them Around)

best butterfly plants 3
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Learn about the best butterfly plants to add to your garden now so you can attract butterflies throughout the summer and fall season.

You love watching butterflies float through your yard and want to see more of them around.

Luckily, certain garden flowers will attract butterflies with their shape, color, or scent. These flowers are designed to essentially guide butterfly visitors to your garden.

In this post, we’ll teach you about five of the best butterfly plants that butterflies cannot resist!

By the way, if you want to create an oasis for all kinds of pollinators, this pollinator garden shopping list would be perfect for you.


If you are ready to get started now, milkweeds are magnets for butterflies. We’re affiliates for Eden Brothers and they have many milkweed seeds to offer which we highly recommend.



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Butterfly Basics

Butterflies are insects that have a three-segmented body and six jointed legs, antennae, and an exoskeleton.

They are one of many varieties of pollinators you can see in your garden starting spring season and lasting through summer and fall (if you’re lucky).

Some butterflies float more than fly and others move pretty fast through the air. Whether seeking out their next flower-nectar meal, getting a drink of water, or dodging weather or predators, they are always a sight to behold.

There are roughly 725 species of butterfly in just the US and Canada, and 20,000 worldwide, according to the North American Butterfly Association.

To tell the difference between a butterfly and a moth, look at their antennae. If they are shaped like a golf club with a long shaft having a bent club at the end of them, then you are looking at a butterfly. If they are shaped like a basic pole or even a complicated tv-antenna, then you are looking at a moth.


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Best Plants For a Butterfly Garden

If you want to attract butterflies to your garden this summer, you need to make sure to have these plants in your yard and planted by this spring

Butterflies prefer certain flowers for their specific colors and they can depend on those flowers having lots of nectar for them to eat.

They are attracted to flat-topped or clustered red, orange, yellow, purple, pink flowers that have short flower tubes in the center.

You will see examples of these in the flowers below to attract and keep butterflies coming back to your garden!

Also, it’s a good idea to have in your garden some water, shelter from weather and predators, and possible good nesting sites for the local species.




 Butterfly Milkweed (Asclepias tuberosa)

These plants have clusters of bright yellow, orange, and red flowers that seem to be a magnet for butterflies. 

Generally, milkweeds:

  • Are perennials that flower in the summer
  • Grow anywhere from 24-36 inches high 
  • Prefer full sun
  • Can be direct-sown
  • Grow in USDA Hardiness zones 4-10 

You can buy milkweeds either as seeds or roots ready to plant.

Unfortunately, Eden Brothers (a great company who we are affiliates for) is sold out of the Butterfly Milkweed for summer 2020, but they still have seeds available for the Swamp Milkweed and the Blood Flower Milkweed which have similar characteristics.

Blazing Star (Liatris spicata) 

Liatris spicata in a pot

This plant has flower spikes of blue, purple, and white-colored flowers that create a bright oasis to attract butterflies.

The Blazing-Star Liatris:

  • Is a perennial corm-bulb that flowers in the summer
  • Can grow anywhere from 24-48 inches high
  • Likes sun to partial shade
  • Can be directly sown
  • Grows in USDA hardiness zones 3-9



Purple Coneflowers (Echinacea or Echinacea purpurea)

Purple coneflowers in a butterfly garden

Coneflowers are a part of the huge daisy family.

These plants show bright purple and pink bursts of flower color in your garden that butterflies can’t resist.

In general, purple coneflower:

  • Is an herbaceous perennial
  • Grows each year from a crown of buds at about soil level and then dies back to the ground in the mid-fall to winter
  • Blooms in the summer
  • Can grow anywhere from 24-36 inches high
  • Prefers full sun
  • Can be directly sown
  • Grows in USDA hardiness zones 3-9.



Black-eyed Susan or Rudbekia huerta 

Black-Eyed Susan in a garden

Check out this beautiful variety of Black-Eyed Susan available at Eden Brothers!

A staple in many cottage gardens, Black-Eyed Susans are also a member of the gigantic daisy family.

This plant attracts butterflies with bright-yellow, red, or orange flower petals and a dark brown or black center. Some flower petals have a mix of yellow, orange, and red bands leading into the black center.

In general, Black-Eyed Susans:

  • Are technically biennials. This means they grow leaves the first year and then flower the second year during the summer months
  • Can grow anywhere from 12-36 inches
  • Prefer full sun
  • Can be directly sown
  • Grow in USDA Hardiness zones 3-9.



Phlox or Phlox drummondii grandiflora 

So many colors of Phlox available at Eden Brothers!

Phlox are considered either flowering annuals or perennials depending on your climate zone.

These beautiful flowers bloom throughout the summer with their pink, purple, cream, red, blue or white flowers. Some even have mixed colors that butterflies cannot resist. 

Generally, Phlox:

  • Flowers mid to late summer into fall
  • Can grow up to 24-inches tall
  • Prefers full sun
  • Can be directly sown
  • Grows in USDA Hardiness zones 2-11



How to Create a Butterfly Garden

A pollinator garden is a garden made up of plants that flower during different seasons which provide nectar and pollen to many different insects, birds, and other animals.

To create a butterfly garden, you need to entice them with specific colorful flowers. They also need access to water, a protected habitat for nesting, shelter from weather/predators, and find safety in non-pesticide-use garden areas.

Two types of plants that butterflies need are host plants and nectar plants. And, in general, butterflies are attracted to reds, yellows, oranges, pinks, purples, etc.

Examples of host plants would be milkweed or parsley (depending on the type of butterfly).

Examples of nectar plants for butterflies are:



Create a Butterfly Watering Station

Here is a video we made on our YouTube channel to show you how easy it is to create your own watering station for butterflies. This would be a great activity for anyone interested in attracting and supporting butterflies in their garden (great for families too)!

Perennial Butterfly Plants for Sale (and one annual)

Whether you already have different kinds of flowering annuals and perennials to attract butterflies in your garden and want more, or you are looking to purchase your first plants, we’ve gathered a selection of best-selling plant seeds for you to choose from.

It really depends on your flower color and leaf texture preferences and needs.

Check out these beautiful options below!

(For a larger list, try this)



Liatris spicata in a pot


Purple coneflowers in a butterfly garden



Check out this beautiful variety of Black-Eyed Susan available at Eden Brothers!


Variety of colorful phlox in a butterfly garden

So many colors of Phlox available at Eden Brothers!

For each of any of these beautiful flowers above, use our coupon!

First, enter SPOKEN into their coupon code box (just like the first photo). You will know you received the coupon if you see the “coupon applied” notice (see the second photo).





Or, if you need to shop for other garden plants for this summer, click the link below.



Butterfly Books

If you’re looking for further educational resources, these books below are the perfect reference book to educate you about butterflies.

Both of these books can be found on Amazon at the links below.


Gardening for Butterflies


Butterfly Gardening: The North American Butterfly Association Guide


Plants for Butterflies Conclusion

Armed with your knowledge of five butterfly plants and facts about their maintenance needs, you are ready to assemble your butterfly garden.

Whether you prefer orange, purple, or yellow flowers, any of these beautiful options will attract butterflies for years to come!

Now we want to hear from you!

Did you find the right plant, or do you need more options?

Let us know by leaving a quick comment below!


Butterfly Plants Resources:


P.S. Find us on Pinterest, Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram so you don’t miss our posts, podcasts, videos, and more!



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Learn about five of the best butterfly plants for your garden so you can attract butterflies throughout spring, summer and fall season.



About spokengarden

HELLO AND WELCOME! We are Sean and Allison of Spoken Garden. With combined backgrounds in horticulture, gardening, landscape, and teaching, we hope to educate and inspire you.

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