Butterflies are not just pretty and enchanting, but they also offer important environmental benefits, such as plant pollination and pest control. They also serve as tasty meals for other creatures such as frogs and lizards … and even humans! Yes, that’s right, in some parts of the world, butterflies are considered a delicacy.
While you probably aren’t interested in dining on a butterfly, you might want to lure some of these fluttery beauties to your patio or garden. If so, here are the top butterfly-attracting plants to consider.
Butterflies like brightly-colored flowers, so a brilliant yellow flower like a goldenrod is a good choice. Best of all, goldenrod is simple to plant and easy to care for, as it requires very little watering or tending and can grow just about anywhere.
2. Butterfly Milkweed
These gorgeous flowers aren’t called butterfly milkweed for nothing! Butterflies simply love these pretty orange flowers, and they attract a wide variety of species, especially monarchs. They also attract caterpillars, which should mean even more butterflies in your future! They are also considered quite hardy and easy to grow.
3. Ornamental Grasses
Bright flowers are not the only plants that will attract winged beauties to your yard. Ornamental grasses are also highly popular with butterflies, including Indian Grass, Little Bluestem, Pink Muhly Grass, River Oats and Carex pensylvancia (which is a wonderful nesting place for caterpillars, meaning butterflies won’t be far behind).
4. Black-Eyed Susans
Black-eyed Susans are a quintessential American flower. This native wildflower is said to have gotten its name from English colonists who were inspired by an early 1700s poem. These simple, bright flowers are drought-tolerant and make an excellent border flower — and, of course, they attract butterflies like nobody’s business!
5. Purple Coneflower
Purple coneflowers are attractive to butterflies because they are bright purple, but also because their cone shape makes them easy to pollinate. They are also hardy, so they can endure cold weather. Along with attracting butterflies and bees, purple coneflowers are also favored by birds such as cardinals and blue jays that like to eat the seeds.
If you want to attract butterflies, you might consider adding herbs such as dill, fennel and parsley to your garden. These will bring butterflies, and caterpillars also enjoy dining on these herbs and will make their cocoons nearby.
Along with flowers and herbs, you might consider adding vines to your butterfly garden. Pipevine is a favorite of swallowtail butterflies, and in fact there is a type of butterfly named after the vine (the pipevine swallowtail, pictured below). These vines have large heart-shaped leaves and offer good shade as well as privacy if you plant it around windows.
8. Flowering Dogwood
Trees can also be a major attraction for butterflies, including the flowering dogwood. In fact, flowering dogwoods can be attractive for creatures such as bees and birds as well, so if you plant one of these beauties, you can expect to enjoy a gorgeous wildlife display, especially when it blossoms in spring.
Shrubs can also bring butterflies to your garden, such as spicebush, False Ingido and coontie. In fact, experts say that the reduction in butterflies can be linked to the reduction of coontie caused by urban development, so if you want to help keep butterflies safe and thriving, consider planting this easy-to-maintain shrub in your garden.
10. Don’t Plant Butterfly Bush
Now that we have discussed the types of plants that do attract butterflies, here is something interesting: The butterfly bush (which is so-named because it is supposed to be very desirable to butterflies and birds) is getting quite a bad rap these days, and many experts are saying that you should not plant this bush.
For one thing, it’s invasive and prevents other plants from flourishing, and for another thing, while it may attract butterflies to your garden, it won’t keep them there. If you want your garden to be loved by butterflies, you need to make sure that you have a variety of plants that will attract caterpillars and offer safe places for them to build cocoons.