Friday, August 17, 2012

Attracting Butterflies: Plant These and They Will Come...

Whenever a butterfly happens to fly near me, I feel like a kid again.  Not that I take off and chase them, although the temptation is always there...!  So, I couldn't allow this summer to fly by without some mention of these fabulous creatures of the insect world.  How do we guarantee their yearly visits?  That's what I'm sharing here from my experience...

There are a lot of lists out there that suggest plants that attract butterflies.  These are a great help for sure, but I've found a few "super-attracting butterfly" plants out there that really fill the bill.  They aren't exotic or difficult to grow either which makes them a huge garden bonus.

I know this post is about the plants and all you see are the butterflies.  Well, the butterflies are the evidence that these plants really do attract butterflies.  And who minds looking at butterfly pics anyway?

I actually discovered some of the best plants to grow for butterflies by "mistake" as I was planting a bit of everything and started noticing which plants really drew them in.  Take this beauty of a caterpillar for instance.  Normally, caterpillars are a gardener's nightmare, but this one is special as it turns into a "Black Swallowtail."  Also, these caterpillars are not rampant in the garden.  There's a few here and there, so they don't annihilate all your plants.  Parsley caterpillars host plants include parsley, dill and fennel to name a few.  This one is on dill, so I guess he could be considered a "Dill Caterpillar." Anyway, these are great plants to have in the garden.  They are herbs to eat and to help raise some caterpillar babies....which means, butterflies!

I didn't capture a butterfly on this Zinnia "Profusion," but trust me, the little skipper butterflies 
(about a 1/2 long) loved them!  Zinnias are very old fashioned flowers.  However, I truly love them.  They are classics and as reliable as weeds when it comes to growing.  Weeds never looked this good though.  To attract big butterflies, plant dahlia or large zinnias like some of the ones here.  Give them room to grow as the big ones get really, well, you know, big!  They'll reward you with lots of great cutting flowers and the butterflies will love them too.

This brings us to a perennial that is a great flower all around and is native to boot. Purple Coneflower or Echinacea is a classic that should be in every garden.  I've seen so many insects and butterflies on these plants, it's like a fast food restaurant at lunch time.  Also, if you leave the seed heads on, they will attract goldfinches to your garden as well.  They love to eat the seeds of this plant and it's a great economical way to feed the little guys.  I really love watching birds eat "naturally" even though feeders can be fun.

Which brings me back to the subject of butterflies and the last plant pictured here (and with the yellow tiger swallowtail in the first pic.)  This is my easiest and sure fire butterfly attractor plant and one that I refuse to not have in the landscape.  Best of all, it's a perennial, a bush and it's pretty!  Yes, I am referring to Butterfly Bush or "Buddleia davidii."  It totally lives up to it's name and is well worth every penny spent.  I've had mine for over ten years and it keeps on coming back, flowering in late spring well into August - September.  I do randomly dead head the flowers in order to keep them producing.  The flowers just get smaller but keep coming on making a continual butterfly show!  So, from someone who has grown one, this plant is the one to beat for bringing those winged lovelies in to your space.  Here's a site to purchase your own or to find out more info about them. 

Okay, this is the coolest...a monarch and yellow tiger feasting on the same bloom from a butterfly bush!

Okay, that's the low down on what I have experienced as fool proof butterfly attractors! Hopefully it will inspire you with ideas with what to plant in your space.  What flowers or plants have you grown which the butterflies love?  I would really love to hear what you have grown!  Blessings!

Linked to these blogs, Lisa Leonard Designs ,  The Prairie Homestead, Frugally Sustainable


  1. I've been adding more plants like these to our yard. I love seeing all the different butterflies they attract, and I was super-excited to see tiny eggs on one of our plants last week.
    Hello from Lisa Leonard's link up!

    1. Isn't it sooo fun? I never get tired of seeing them. Glad you are hosting your own butterfly nursery too...thanks for visiting!

  2. Elia decided she likes the yellow butterfly best of all! :)

    1. She's the cutest! I think I may have to agree...they certainly are beautiful! :)

  3. Beautiful!

    I'm a new follower from the WW Hop. Hope you can stop by Mama's Musings.

    1. Thanks for visiting. Stopped by your blog...Very nice! Have a great weekend!