50 Flowers That Attract Butterflies

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Butterflies can be attracted to the garden by growing nectar-rich plants. Butterflies attracted to gardens with masses of brightly colored flowers. Their favorites are purple, red, orange, and yellow.

Butterflies prefer small fragrant flowers. They prefer nectar-filled tubular blossoms or flat blossoms that serve as landing pads. They rarely visit large showy flowers or trumpet-shaped flowers. To attract a wide range of butterflies, grow a variety of nectar-rich plants.

Butterflies are the brilliantly colored adult form of various caterpillars. Butterflies belong to the Order Lepidoptera. Butterflies differ from moths in flying only by day, in having more slender bodies, and clubbed or hooked (never feathery) antennae. Butterflies fold their broad wings together vertically when at rest instead of horizontally.

Butterflies are harmless even though they are the parents of potentially destructive caterpillars. Only one butterfly is destructive, that is the European cabbage butterfly which lays its eggs in young cabbage-family plants; the larvae feed on leaves.

Besides nectar-rich plants, butterflies are also attracted to water sources such as small puddles or flat rocks that slope into the water of a garden pool. Butterflies will congregate there to drink. Butterflies prefer full sun gardens and gardens sheltered from the wind.

Avoid using pesticides in gardens where you want to attract butterflies. Pesticides, including organic pesticides, will kill butterflies as well as the pests you are trying to control.

Flowers of Butterfly Bush, Buddleia
Flowers of Butterfly Bush, Buddleia

Flowers That Attract Butterflies

Common NameBotanical NameZones
AgeratumAgeratum houstonianumAnnual
AsterAster spp.4-8
AzaleaRhododendron spp.4-10
Basket-of-goldAurinia saxatilis4-8
Bee balmMonarda didyma4-8
Black-eyed SusanRudbeckia spp.3-10
Blanket flowerGallardia spp.2-10
Blazing starLiatris spicata3-9
Blue marguariteFelicia amelloides9-10
Butterfly bushBuddleia spp.5-10
Butterfly weedAsclepias tuberosa4-10


Blue false indigo, Baptisia australis
Blue false indigo, Baptisia australis
Common NameBotanical NameZones
CandytuftIberis spp.4-8
Coneflower, purpleEchinacea purpurea3-9
CoreopsisCoreopsis spp.4-9
Cornflower, annualCentaurea cyanusAnnual
CosmosCosmos spp.Annual
DahliaDahlia spp.8-11
False indigo, blueBabtisia australis3-9
Globe thistleEchinops spp.3-8
GoldenrodSolidago hybrids4-8
 Anise hyssop, Agastache foeniculum
Anise hyssop, Agastache foeniculum
Common NameBotanical NameZones
HeliotropeHeliotropium arborescensAnnual
HollyhockAlcea rosa3-11
HyssopAgastache spp.5-10
Joe-pye weedEupatorium spp.3-10
LantanaLantana camara8-10
LarkspurConsolida ambiguaAnnual
LilyLilium spp.Varies
MarigoldTagetes spp.Annual
Mexican sunflowerTithonia routundifoliaAnnual
Morning gloryIpomea spp.Annual
China pinks, Dianthus chinensis
China pinks, Dianthus chinensis
Common NameBotanical NameZones
Ornamental onion, AlliumAllium spp.4-8
PassionflowerPassiflora spp.Varies
PetuniaPetunia spp.Annual
Phlox, variousPhlox spp.Varies
Scabiosa; pincushion flowerScabiosa caucasica3-7
Pinks, ChinaDianthus chinensis7-10
PrimrosePrimula spp.5-8
RhododendronRhododendron spp.Varies
SedumSedum spp.3-10
SnapdragonAntirrhnum majusAnnual
StrawflowerHelichrysum bracteatumAnnual
Yarrow, Achillea
Yarrow, Achillea
Common NameBotanical NameZones
Sunflower, perennialHeliantus spp.4-9
Sweet alyssumLobularia maritimaAnnual
Sweet WilliamDianthus barbatus3-8
ThymeThymus spp.5-8
VerbenaVerbena spp.Varies
ViburnumViburnum spp.Varies
VioletViola spp.Varies
WisteriaWisteria spp.5-9
YarrowAchillea spp.3-9
ZinniaZinnia spp.Annual

Written by Stephen Albert

Stephen Albert is a horticulturist, master gardener, and certified nurseryman who has taught at the University of California for more than 25 years. He holds graduate degrees from the University of California and the University of Iowa. His books include Vegetable Garden Grower’s Guide, Vegetable Garden Almanac & Planner, Tomato Grower’s Answer Book, and Kitchen Garden Grower’s Guide. His Vegetable Garden Grower’s Masterclass is available online. has more than 10 million visitors each year.

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