Butterfly Plants List: Butterfly Flowers and Host Plant Ideas

Butterfly Garden Plants to Support Butterflies and Pollinators

Butterfly Plants for creating a bountiful garden filled with butterflies, hummingbirds, moths, bees, and other beneficial pollinators. What butterfly flowers could you add to your garden this season?
This frequently updated butterfly plants directory makes it easy for you to find the nectar flowers and host plants you’ll need to create a bountiful butterfly garden. Find western butterfly garden plant ideas here.

Most of the butterfly plants listed below attract monarchs but some will also attract other butterflies, hummingbirds, bees, and moths.

These are the plants and butterfly flowers (both native and non-native) that have attracted the most butterflies to our garden and to other gardens across North America. This also includes host plants to feed butterfly caterpillars.

If you’re looking for milkweed plants to support monarchs click here

While non-natives aren’t suitable for planting in unattended fields, they most certainly have a place in home gardens where they can be monitored…and you’ll attract and support more monarchs and pollinators with a thoughtful mix of both natives and continuous blooming annuals.

Attract more butterflies to your garden with a thoughtful mix of native plants and continuous-blooming annuals- Butterfly Plants List
Coneflowers and Zinnias | Photo by Monte Loomis Photography

You can purchase seeds or butterfly plants by clicking on any of the bold green links on each listing below. Regular green links go to plant pages with more photos and info.


Butterfly Plants with Blue Butterfly Flowers

Stachytarpheta jamaicensis (blue porterweed)

Gulf fritillary on Blue Porterweed
Gulf frit in a Sea of Porterweed | © US Fish and Wildlife Service

Porterweed comes in a variety of colors but blue seems to be the color that attracts the most monarchs. Overwinter in cold climates.

Buy Stachytarpheta jamaicensis (blue porterweed)

Find Blue Porterweed on etsy

More Porterweed Plants Here


Butterfly Bushes

There are many butterfly bush cultivars to choose from. But the following have two things in common…they attract butterflies without being invasive. If you consider other varieties, make sure they aren’t invasive plants for your region.

Buddleia davidii  ‘buddleja buzz’ (butterfly bush)

male monarch hanging out on magenta buddleja buzz butterfly bush
Falling For Buddleja Buzz

Buddleja Buzz is compact, non-invasive and it attract butterflies. It’s also supposed to be more cold hardy for the north. It’s the only variety we’ve planted that hasn’t succumbed to Minnesota winter. Colder climates should mulch with leaves in November. Buzz comes in a variety of colors including purple, sky blue, and white. Grows to 4 feet.

Get more info and garden photos on our Buddleja Buzz Plant Page.

Buy ‘buddleja buzz’ butterfly bush

Buddleia davidii ‘Miss Molly’

This proven winner is also a non-invasive variety that butterflies love. It’s as close to a true red as butterfly bushes get. It’s a more compact variety that tops out around 6 feet.

Buy Buddleia (Buddleja) davidii ‘Miss Molly

Find More Miss Molly here

Get Miss Molly Buddleia here

Buddleia davdii ‘Miss Ruby’ butterfly bush

I planted this variety and it survived one mild Minnesota winter. The second year it attracted lots of monarchs, other butterflies, bees, and hummingbirds. Unfortunately, it didn’t come back this season. I’m interested to see if Miss Molly is a hardier variety for northern regions…

Purchase ‘Miss Ruby’ butterfly bush here

Buddleia davidii ‘lo & behold’

Top Butterfly Plant Ideas for a Blooming Butterfly Garden- Lo and Behold are dwarf butterfly bushes that attract both butterflies and moths
A New Butterfly (and Moth!) Favorite? | © Rebecca Barray

There are several types available including ‘blue chip’ and ‘lilac chip’. ‘Purple haze’ has a a lower growth habit on horizontal branches. I hear mixed reviews about ‘lo and behold’. While these compact plants take up less space, some gardeners report fewer butterflies. These buddleia are almost sterile, and won’t present any seeding issues. Tops out at just 3 feet…a potter’s delight!

Click Here to find Lo & Behold Dwarf Butterfly Bush

Find more Lo & Behold buddleia here

Buddleia x weyeriana ‘Bicolor’

A beautiful combination of orange and pink-raspberry blooms that bring home the butterflies, hummingbirds, and bees. Grows up to 6 feet and is cold hardy to USDA zone 5:

Buy Bicolor Butterfly Bush Here

Find Buddleia Bicolor on Amazon

10 Top Butterfly Bush Varieties for your Garden <<< 🧐

Find a WIDE VARIETY of Butterfly Bush Plants on Amazon

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Climbing Vines for Butterflies

Butterfly vines can provide visual appeal, and even serve as a garden centerpiece when you find one with spectacular leaves or butterfly flowers. They also make it easier to view the butterflies!

Pseudogynoxus chenopodioides (Mexican flame vine)

this orange butterfly flower is a favorite butterfly plant of monarchs and other beneficial pollinators

The vibrant orange blooms on this climbing vine are one of the best (and only) vine flowers that attract monarchs. It also attracts swallowtails, hummingbirds, and bees to our northern butterfly garden. Mexican Flame Vine Plant Page

This butterfly vine must be overwintered indoors in colder climates.

perennial region: USDA hardiness zones 9a-11b

Buy Mexican Flame Vine on Amazon

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Buy Mexican Flame Vine Plants Here


Butterfly Plants with Orange Butterfly Flowers

Cosmos sulphureus (orange ‘cosmic’ cosmos)

Orange cosmic cosmo flower
Cosmic Beauty

These bright orange, compact cosmos will light up your garden on even the cloudiest days. They’re also a popular pollination station for monarchs and more…

Cosmic cosmos are an annual butterfly flower easy to grow from seed

Find Orange Cosmic Cosmos for your garden

Find Cosmic Cosmos on Etsy

Buy ‘Bright Lights’ Cosmos from Joyful Butterfly

Pseudogynoxus chenopodioides (Mexican flame vine)

Mexican flame vine is a fast-growing climbing vine that will put out a brilliant display of orange flowers on your trellis. This bright butterfly plant is favored by monarch butterflies and other precious pollinators.

The vibrant orange blooms on this climbing vine are one of the best (and only) vine flowers that attract monarchs. It also attracts swallowtails, hummingbirds, and bees to our northern butterfly garden.

More Flame Vine Photos and Info Here

perennial region: USDA hardiness zones 9a-11b

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Tithonia rotundifolia or speciosa (Mexican sunflower ‘torch’)

Mexican sunflowers continuously bloom from summer through first frost and are swarmed by monarch butterflies during their great fall migration. They also attract hummingbirds and busy little bees- Best Butterfly Plants
Continuous Blooms through First Frost

Mexican sunflowers are one of the top annuals you can add to your butterfly garden. They attract many butterflies and hummingbirds with their vibrant color and sweet nectar. If you want to attract migrating monarchs, this orange butterfly flower should be on the top of your list.

Learn more about Mexican sunflowers here

1. Find Orange, Yellow, or Red ‘Torch’ Mexican Sunflowers

2. Find More Mexican Sunflower on Etsy

3. Tithonia Rotundifolia Seeds from Joyful Butterfly

5 Orange Flowers with Butterfly Powers

Long-blooming, brilliant orange flowers that will intoxicate both you and your butterfly guests.


Butterfly Plants with Pink Butterfly Flowers

Allium tanguticum (‘summer beauty’)

Allium angulosum is an ornamental onion that is a top choice for attracting butterflies and pollinators to your garden. The pinkish globe-shaped flowers have a long summer bloom period and the leaves are pretty too...almost reminiscent of an underwater sea anemone.

You can’t ask for much more from this long-blooming ornamental allium. It’s a pollinator magnet, repels aphids, and the flowers are sterile so it won’t spread to unwanted areas. The best allium species I’ve tried for butterflies.

More Summer Beauty Secrets on the Allium Tanguticum Plant Page

perennial region: USDA hardiness zones 4-9

Click Here to Purchase Summer Beauty Plants

Summer Beauty Allium is not widely sold, but ‘millenium’ is a similar variety that is also reported to be a pollinator favorite:

Find Millenium Allium for Pollinators here

Click Here to Purchase Millenium Allium Plants

Find more Millenium Allium Here


Azaleas or Rhododendron come in a variety of colors including purple, yellow, red, white, and this vibrant shade of pink. The flowers attract spring butterflies, including swallowtails.

Azaleas or Rhododendron come in a variety of colors including purple, yellow, red, white, and this vibrant shade of pink. The flowers attract spring butterflies, including swallowtails. Check specific varieties for hardiness zone recommendations:

Find a Variety of Azalea Plants Here

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Find a Variety of Azalea Plants for your Garden

Echinacea pallida (pale purple coneflower)

Echinacea pallida is a pale purple coneflower that is more of a pink butterfly flower. This butterfly plant blooms in late spring to early summer and is popular with the (painted) ladies and other precious pollinators.

The pale purple coneflower is often mistaken  for the more familiar echinacea purpurea, but E. Pallida has distinctively thin and weepy flower petals. Butterflies, including painted ladies, are common visitors. Don’t be fooled by the common name, the flower petals are most definitely pink!

native region US: Eastern US

native region Canada: Eastern Provinces of Canada

perennial region: USDA hardiness zones 3-10

Purchase Pale Purple Coneflower Plants and Seeds from JB

Buy Pallida Coneflowers on Amazon

Purchase Pallida Coneflower Seeds Here

Echinacea purpurea (purple coneflower)

Best Butterfly Plants- Purple coneflowers put forth pretty pink blooms during the late days of spring into summer. They are frequently visited by many types of butterflies including fritillaries.

Purple coneflowers are a worthy butterfly garden staple across the eastern half of the US. The flower petals are a soft pink hue defying the expectations of their common name. There are many cultivars of this variety, but the native variety seems to attract the most pollinators.

native region US: Eastern US

perennial region: USDA hardiness zones 3-8

Purchase Purple Coneflower Plants from JB

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Find More Echinacea Purpurea on Etsy

Eutrochium maculatum (spotted Joe pye weed)

Monarch butterflies swarm joe pye weed in late summer, making it a top butterfly garden plant. See if it will grow in your region...
Pye Served Fresh from the Garden

note: The botanical name has been changed from Eupatorium to Eutrochium.

Spotted Joe pye weed is a low maintenance butterfly plant thrives in full sun to partial shade. This is an extremely popular nectar source up until the monarch migration. See more ‘Joe’ photos and info here.

native region US: Click the link to see the native region for Eutrochium maculatum

native region Canada: British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia

perennial region: USDA hardiness zones 3-8

Buy Joe Pye Weed Plants and Seeds from Joyful Butterfly

Find Spotted Joe Pye on amazon

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Monarda fistulosa (bee balm)

North American native plant Monarda fistulosa attracts all types of pollinators including swallowtails, other butterflies, hummingbirds, and bees. Grow bee balm (also called wild bergamot) in full sun for best results. More info and seeds here...
Coming Back for Seconds

note: This butterfly plant has two common names: wild bergamot and bee balm.

Wild bergamot entices a wide range of butterflies and other pollinators. It typically grows 2-4 feet tall and puts forth pink, pompom-shaped blooms from July through September. Bee balm will grow in a variety of soil conditions, but prefers dry to medium soil.

Prevent powdery mildew by planting in full sun and spacing plants 2-3′ apart.

native region US: All except Florida and California

native region Canada: All

perennial region: USDA hardiness zones 4-9

Buy Monarda Fistulosa from Joyful Butterfly

Buy Bee Balm for your Garden Here

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Butterfly Plants with Purple Butterfly Flowers

Ageratum houstonianum (floss flower)

Ageratum houstonianum- Floss Flower is one of the rare butterfly plants that can entice monarch butterflies to seek nectar nourishment at ground level.

A fast-growing ageratum that is so appealing to monarchs, they don’t mind coming down to ground level to feed on the blooms. See more photos and find info on our:

Floss Flower Plant Page

It does seed a lot, but the volunteers are easy to pull and the results…well worth it!

A. houstonianum annual region: USDA hardiness zones 2-10

Find Floss Flower on Etsy

Conoclinium greggii (Gregg’s mistflower)

Dark Blue Tiger Butterfly Conoclinium greggii
An International Fan of Greggii

This hard to find, less hardy ageratum is a popular migration stop for many monarchs during their long journey to the mountains of Mexico.

For more info about Gregg’s mistflower check out its plant page.

C. greggii native region US: Arizona, New Mexico, Texas

C. greggii perennial region: USDA hardiness zones 7-10

Find Gregg’s Mist Flower Here

Duranta erecta (sapphire showers)

Duranta erecta purple sapphire showers
Spectacular ‘Sapphire Showers’

Purple ruffled flowers with jagged white edges are attractive to bees and butterflies, as well as the gardener. AKA Duranta repens, ‘golden dewdrops’, or ‘geisha girl’.

Must be overwintered in cold weather climates. Worth the effort!

native region US: Arizona, California, Florida, Louisiana, Texas

perennial region: USDA hardiness zones 8b-11

Buy Duranta Erecta Here

Buy Sapphire Showers Here

Echium fastuosum (pride of Madeira)

Echium fastuosum Pride of Madeira is a popular butterfly plant with west coast monarchs
A New Monarch Favorite? | © Mike Baird

This Canary Island native has become a popular butterfly garden plant on the California coast. It can eclipse 8 feet. The beautiful purplish blooms with red stamens are popular with bees and butterflies…especially monarchs! This plant is also drought tolerant and does well in poor soil.

I am overwintering this in Minnesota to see if it can be a successful butterfly plant for colder regions. I’ll be sure to post my results next season.

perennial region: USDA hardiness zones 9-11

Find Echium Plants and Seeds here

More Pride of Madeira Here

Liatris aspera (rough or button blazing star)

Best Butterfly Garden Plants- a monarch butterfly and an eastern tiger swallowtail share the sweet nectar of liatris aspera.

This liatris species was sent to us by mistake when we were trying to supplement our liatris ligulistylis (listed below).

The main differences are that aspera only grows to four feet and it blooms about a month earlier.

Having both liatris species is fantastic because aspera attracts summer monarchs, while ligulistylis is blooming when the monarchs start to swarm for the great migration.

Having both varieties is one of the best mistakes that ever happened to our garden!

native region US: Eastern Half

native region Canada: Eastern Canada

perennial region: USDA hardiness zones 3-8

Buy Liatris Aspera Here

Buy Liatris Aspera Plants and Seeds

Liatris ligulistylis (meadow blazingstar)

Butterflies swarm liatris ligulistylis during the monarch migration- best butterfly plants
Monarch Migration Treat

Many refer to this liatris as the ultimate monarch magnet. Its tall and showy purple flowers send monarchs into a frenzy. The first time I witnessed this magical effect was at a crowded state fair where a couple dozen monarchs braved large crowds for this special migration treat. Find out more about this amazing liatris species here.

native region US: Colorado, Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, New Mexico, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Wisconsin, Wyoming

native region Canada: Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba

perennial region: USDA hardiness zones 3-8

Find Meadow Blazingstar Seeds Here

Click Here to Buy Liatris ligulistylis

Liatris scariosa (northern blazingstar)

We recently added this to the butterfly garden and were pleasantly surprised to find this is another strong competitor for the coveted ultimate monarch magnet title. L. scariosa blooms a bit later than its meadow blazing star sibling posted above, which means we’ll have prime liatris blooms through the end of September. This species has very showy blooms and a slightly thicker stalk.

native region US: northeastern half

perennial region: USDA hardiness zones 3-8

Find More Liatris Scariosa on Amazon

More Northern Blazing Star Here

Salvia leucantha (Mexican bush sage)

Salvia leucantha mexican salvia flowers attract monarch butterflies
Fuzzy Flowers | © Miheco

A salvia with fuzzy purple blooms, white blooms, or a delicious combination of the two.

perennial region: USDA hardiness zones 7-11

Find Mexican Bush Sage Here

Buy Salvia Leucantha Here

Stachytarpheta frantzii (purple porterweed)

Purple porterweed is a must-plant nectar flower for your butterfly plants list. Make sure you get the right species for maximum butterfly attraction...
Photo Courtesy of Joan Sorg

A superior porterweed species for attracting monarch butterflies, and even some typically red-loving hummingbirds. It seeds in warmer regions and can easily propagated with stem cuttings.

S. frantzii perennial region: USDA hardiness zones 10-11

Buy Stachytarpheta frantzii seeds

Find Purple Porterweed Plants Here

Symphyotrichum novae-angliae (New England Aster)

new england aster- late blooming native purple butterfly flower for monarchs and more

This is one of the last blooming nectar flowers than can help support migrating monarch butterflies, and other beneficial pollinators looking for final nectar nourishment before the first freeze of fall.

Click to Find Out More about Symphyotrichum novae-angliae and see if it’s a good fit for your garden?

perennial region: USDA hardiness zones 3-8

Find New England Aster Plants and Seeds at Joyful butterfly

Click to Buy New England Asters on Etsy

Verbena bonariensis (purpletop vervain)

Top Butterfly Plants for a Successful Butterfly Garden- A Sulphur butterfly sips Sweet Nectar from Purple the purple blooms of Verbena Bonariensis
Purple Appeal for a Wide Range of Butterflies

This monarch favorite is also constantly visited by a large variety of butterflies, bees, and birds. Brazilian verbena probably has the largest variety of pollinators in our northern garden. This is a butterfly plant no garden should be without.

Find out more about Verbena bonariensis

perennial region: USDA hardiness zones 7a-10b

Find Verbena Plants and Seeds at Joyful butterfly

Click to Buy Verbena bonariensis

7 Purple Butterfly Flowers

Popular purple perennials and annuals that make more monarchs come to you!


Butterfly Plants with Red Butterfly Flowers

Callistemon spp. (bottlebrush)

Bottlebrushes are warm weather butterfly and hummingbird plants commonly named for their striking resemblance to the handy kitchen accessory. See if these continuous blooming beauties are a good butterfly plant option for your garden...

Bottlebrush is native to Australia, but grows well in warm regions of the US attracting monarchs, other butterflies, bees, and hummingbirds. The brilliant red blooms are on display from spring through fall. In colder regions, it can be overwintered indoors. Callistemon species can grow to 10 feet, but smaller cultivars are available.

perennial region: USDA Hardiness Zones 9-11

Buy Bottlebrush Plants and Seeds Here

More Callistemon Seeds and Trees Here

Pentas lanceolata (Egyptian starcluster)

Tall Red Pentas Lanceolata have more nectar compared to new hybrid varieties, but most pentas will attract and support pollinators in your garden
A Tall Drink of Nectar | © Jim the Photographer

While there are many new cultivars and pentas hybrids, many pollinators seem to prefer sipping nectar from this early heirloom variety. However, most pentas will attract and support pollinator life in your garden.

perennial region: USDA Hardiness Zones 8b-11

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Find a Wide Variety of Pentastic Plants for Pollinators Here

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Butterfly Plants with White Butterfly Flowers

Agastache scrophulariifolia (purple giant hyssop)

If you want to attract a bevy of bees and monarchs to your butterfly garden, make sure you buy this plant by botanical name. It’s often confused with Agastache foeniculum (anise hyssop) which grows much shorter and only attracts bees.

This eastern native flowers July-September and bloom colors range from light pink to white and is one of the top nectar flowers for migrating monarchs each fall.

native region US: Eastern U.S.

native region Canada: Eastern Canada

perennial region: USDA Hardiness Zones 4-7

Find Purple Giant Hyssop Here

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Allium tuberosum (garlic chives)

Garlic chives have showy white blooms and are a preferred late-season nectar source for many pollinators including beneficial bees and butterflies
Painted Lady Butterflies

In northern regions, this bright white allium blooms during the height of monarch season in late summer. It also attracts other butterflies and beneficial bees…a great all-around pollinator plant and an edible herb for you too!

perennial region: USDA Hardiness Zones 3-9

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Cephalanthus occidentalis (buttonbush)

Swallowtails are often drawn to the nectar-rich blooms of Buttonbush butterfly plants.

These unique, white native flowers bloom in summer and are a favorite nectar flower of swallowtails, bees, and other beneficial pollinators. The compact ‘sugar shack’ variety has been a welcoming addition to our garden:

native region US: Eastern U.S. + Arizona, California

native region Canada: Nova Scotia, Ontario, Prince Edward island, Quebec

perennial region: USDA Hardiness Zones 5-10

Find Buttonbush Plants on Joyful Butterfly

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Butterfly Plants with Yellow Butterfly Flowers

Mammoth Sunflower (Helianthus annuus)

Mammoth Sunflower Seeds

These monstrous beauties can tower to 12 feet! They produce an abundance of nectar for butterflies, and lots of seeds for their bird-brained and human garden companions.

native region US: Native to the continental U.S.

perennial region: Annual plant that can be grown throughout the U.S. and Canada

Buy Mammoth Sunflower Seeds Here

More Mammoth Sunflowers

Oligoneuron rigidum (stiff goldenrod)

Stiff Goldenrod is a late blooming species that often hosts groups of migrating monarchs across Canada and the northern US. Get more info to see if this is a good butterfly plant to attract monarchs in your region...
‘Stiff’ Competition

There are many species of goldenrod, but this species is reported to be a particular favorite for migrating monarchs. It also attracts other butterflies and beneficial pollinators.

native region US: Majority of Eastern U.S.

native region Canada: Ontario

perennial region: USDA hardiness zones 3a-9b

Buy Stiff Goldenrod here

More Oligoneuron rigidum here

Rudbeckia hirta ‘Denver daisy’ (black-eyed Susan)

Buckeye Butterflies and other pollinators frequently visit the stunning Denver daisy- Best Butterfly Plants List
Buckeye Beauty

If you want to attract monarchs, try planting the traditional variety, but the ‘Denver daisy’ adds more visual pop with its contrasting maroon halos.

It attracts other butterflies (like the buckeye above) and bees. Birds also feast on the seeds. This has reseeded in our garden for years, but never become invasive. Grow annually or as a short-lived perennial. Drought tolerant.

native region US: All U.S. except Arizona, Nevada

native region Canada: All Canada

perennial region: USDA hardiness zones 4-9

Find Rudbeckia Hirta Seeds here

More Denver Daisy Seeds here

Rudbeckia laciniata (cutleaf coneflower)

Best Butterfly Plants for Gardens- The Cutleaf Coneflower (Rudbeckia laciniata) is a giant coneflower variety that's a favorite nectar source for bumble bees and migrating monarch butterflies.

This giant coneflower variety attracts pollinators with a bright mass of yellow flowers along with sweet nectar that’s an absolute favorite for bumble bees. Monarchs love this late blooming butterfly plant too, as they stock up for their long fall migration.

Get more info about the cutleaf coneflower on its personalized Rudbeckia butterfly plants page

native region US: all except far west

native region Canada: all except Alberta and Saskatchewan

perennial region: USDA hardiness zones 4-8

Find Rudbeckia Laciniata Seeds on Amazon

Find Cutleaf Coneflowers on Etsy

More Green-headed coneflowers on eBay

Tagetes patula (french marigold ‘disco marietta’)

Single flower french marigolds bring home more butterflies than the traditional double-flowered varieties. Get more info and find seeds for your garden...
A Red Admiral finds (Mari)Gold

Marigolds are a brilliant addition to any garden for the bright pop of color they provide all season long. While most marigolds attract some butterflies, we’ve noticed more visitors on the single flower varieties.

native region US: annual

native region Canada: annual

Find ‘Disco Marietta’  French Marigold Seeds on Amazon

Marigold Disco Seeds on Etsy

 Try Pot Marigold Pacific Beauty from Joyful Butterfly


Lantana Plants

Lantana is a continuously blooming butterfly flower that attracts many varieties of butterflies and other pollinators to the garden- Best Butterfly Plants
Bursting with Beauty

Lantana is a continuous blooming annual for most regions, that comes in a variety of sizes, growth habits, and colors.

Most lantana flowers will attract many butterflies and pollinators, but monarchs are not so easily pleased. Scroll down a couple listings to see which lantana plant has enticed them in our northern garden…

Lantana camara ‘luscious grape’

Trailing purple lantana flowers are a popular nectar source for swallowtail butterflies and other precious pollinators.

A trailing lantana variety with intense purple blooms. A great choice for spilling off raised beds or growing in hanging pots. Grows well as an annual plant in colder regions. Click for more info on luscious grape lantana.

perennial region: USDA hardiness zones 9a-11

Find Trailing Luscious Grape Lantana on Amazon

Purchase ‘luscious grape’ Purple Lantana here

Lantana camara ‘Miss Huff’

Lantana Camara 'Miss Huff' is the most cold hardy lantana variety and can survive winter temps down to 0° F. Mulch in northern zones for extra insurance. Unlike other varieties in our garden, Miss Huff attracts lots of monarchs...and swallowtails too!

The beautiful blooms on this lantana variety are a colorful mix of orange, red, and yellow. While monarchs rarely touch our other lantana varieties, I was pleasantly surprised to see them visiting Miss Huff on a regular basis, along with lantana regulars like the eastern tiger swallowtail above. Lantana blooms all summer long with deadheading. In warmer zones it can grow over 5 feet tall…

perennial region: USDA hardiness zones 7a-11b (try mulching in zone 6 and pray for a spring miracle)

Find Lantana ‘Miss Huff’ Butterfly Plants or Seeds

Find More Miss Huff Lantana Plants Here

perennial region:  These are some of the other lantana varieties available for your butterfly garden. In our northern region, we grow it annually:

Find a Wide Variety of Lantana Plants for your Butterfly Garden

Find More Lantana on Etsy


Zinnia Flowers

Zinnias are annual flowers that can be grown throughout North America. They are favorite flowers for many pollinators and will add an explosion of vibrant colors to your garden landscape.

Benary’s Giant Zinnia Mix

Benary's Giant Zinnia Mix put forth a magnificent display of showy double blooms that attract monarchs, hummingbirds, and other pollinators. Get more info on zinnias and other top butterfly plants for your garden.
A Giant Surprise

Never say never to double blooms. For some reason, the butterflies don’t seem to mind the extra effort it takes to steal a little nectar from the mostly double blooms of benary giant. These also come in a wide variety of eye-popping colors that will attract butterflies and other pollinators.

Find Benary Giant Zinnia Seeds on Etsy

Find Benary’s Giant Zinnia Seeds on Amazon

Profusion Zinnias

Profusion Zinnias are a dwarf zinnia variety that works well in containers or raised beds. The flowers come in a variety of colors and will bring home the butterflies.

Profusion Zinnias are dwarf zinnias that come in a wide variety of colors including yellow, white, fire, cherry, orange, and pink. They are more resistant to powdery mildew than larger zinnias. Makes a great choice for borders, potting, and raised beds.

Purchase Profusion Zinnias Here

More Profusion Zinnia Seeds on eBay

Zowie Yellow Flame

Zowie Yellow Flame Zinnias will unleash an explosion of beauty in your garden. They also attract beautiful butterflies and beneficial bees.

Pink, Red, and Yellow come together in a blaze of glory. Make sure to buy these annually from a reliable seed vendor. If you collect seeds from your garden, you’ll be disappointed to find the zowie  has been replaced by faded pink flowers.

Find Zowie Yellow Flame Zinnias on Amazon

Buy Zowie Zinnia Seeds

5 Favorite Zinnia Flowers

Host Butterfly Plants for Butterfly Caterpillars

Alcea rosea (hollyhock)

The hollyhock comes in many colors to brigthen up your garden and is a nectar plant for pollinators and a host plant for painted lady caterpillars. More info and find some for your garden...

Hollyhocks are towering nectar flower for pollinators and a host plant for painted lady caterpillars to munch and grow with. Individual plants can grow over 10 feet tall. ?

The leaves are prone to rust, but you can treat the fungus early and/or preventatively with a hydrogen peroxide mix, space plants to allow good air flow, and water at the base of the plants to avoid excess moisture on the foliage.

Hollyhock is considered to be a biennial or short lived perennial…

Perennial region US: throughout most of the US, but tough to grow in dry regions.

Perennial region Canada: the eastern half of Canada

Find Hollyhock plants and seeds on Etsy

Find More Hollyhocks here

Anaphalis margaritacea (pearly everlasting)

Pearly Everlasting is a host plant for the American Lady Caterpillar. Its white butterfly flowers also provide nectar for 'smallinators' and other butterflies including monarchs and red admirals.
A Red Admiral enters the Pearly Gates

Pearly everlasting is one of our earliest blooming northern butterfly plants, and typically the first host plant to receive butterfly eggs each season. A must-have butterfly plant addition for attracting American Ladies and their offspring.

native region US: All except for southeast

native region Canada: All

perennial region: USDA hardiness zones 3-8.

Buy Pearly Everlasting Host Plant from Joyful Butterfly

Find Pearly Everlasting for your Butterfly Garden

Asclepias spp. (milkweed)

Milkweed is the lifeblood of monarch caterpillars, and without these precious butterfly plants, monarch butterflies would be no more...plant milkweed to help save monarchs for future generations!

There are over 30 milkweed varieties that can be planted in North American butterfly gardens, and at least one variety will be perfect for your region. A must-have butterfly plant if you want to attract monarch butterflies to your garden.

Explore 25+ Milkweed Options for your Butterfly Garden

Buy Milkweed Plants from suggested online vendors

Asimina Triloba (Pawpaw Tree)

The paw paw tree can be viewed as a height-challenged tree or a large shrub that reaches 12-20 feet at maturity. This is a host plant for magnificent Zebra Swallowtails.

native region US: Eastern Half of US

native region Canada: Eastern Canada

perennial region: USDA hardiness zones 5a-9a.

Find Pawpaw trees and seeds for your garden here

Find More Pawpaw trees here

Liriodendron tulipifera (tulip poplar tree)

This host tree for eastern tiger swallowtail caterpillars can grow up to 90 feet tall, but it can also be grown in containers or cut back annually for smaller spaces.

native region US: Eastern Half of US

native region Canada: Eastern Canada

perennial region: USDA hardiness zones 4-9.

Find a Tulip Tree to Host Eastern Tiger Swallowtails

More Liriodendron Trees here

Foeniculum vulgare ‘smokey’ (bronze fennel)

Bronze smokey fennel is a preferred host plant for black swallowtail caterpillars. The anise flavored plants and seeds are also used for seasoning sausage, other foods, and licorice-flavored liquors. Find fennel seeds or plants here...

Bronze ‘smokey’ fennel is a preferred host plant for eastern black swallowtails. It’s attractive purple-tined foliage has the taste and aroma of anise or black licorice. The summer blooms are a wasp favorite, so plant accordingly or try another black swallowtail host plant.

perennial region: USDA hardiness zones 4-9.

Find Bronze ‘Smokey’ Fennel Seeds and Plants Here

Buy Bronze Fennel on Etsy

Passiflora incarnata (maypop passionflower vine)

Passiflora incarnata is a purple passionflower that serves as both a host plant and nectar flower in the butterfly garden. Its showy flowers eventually yield guava-flavored passion fruit which can be eaten fresh from the vine or made into a delicious jelly.
Purple Passionflower

This vigorous climbing vine supports gulf and variegated fritillary caterpillars. It also puts out some of the showiest blooms you’ll see in a butterfly garden, eventually yielding a harvest of edible passion fruits that have been reported to taste like guava.

native region US: Eastern half excluding northernmost states

perennial region: USDA hardiness zones 5a-9.

Find Maypop Plants and Seeds on Amazon

Buy Passiflora Incarnata Seeds and Plants from Joyful Butterfly

More Maypop Plants and Seeds on Etsy

Prunus serotina (wild black cherry tree)

Black Cherry Trees are host plants for tiger swallowtails, red-spotted purples, and the amazing cecropia moth. Don't have room for a 50 foot tree? Try growing it in containers.
CONTAIN that Wild Black Cherry

A preferred host plant for Eastern Tiger swallowtails, Coral Hairstreaks, Red Spotted Purples, and those amazing Cecropia Moths! If you’re looking to support butterflies and moths this option gives you several chances…

If there’s no room in your yard for a 70 foot giant, try growing your wild black cherry in a large container.

native region US: Eastern half + Arizona, New Mexico & Washington

native region Canada: Eastern half + British Columbia

perennial region: USDA hardiness zones 4a-8b.

Find Your Black Cherry Tree on Etsy

More Prunus Serotina Seeds and Trees

Prunus virginiana (chokecherry tree)

Chokecherry Tree- host butterfly plant for Eastern tiger swallowtails, Lorquin admirals, and Two-tailed swallowtails. A good host tree because it tops out around 20 feet so it's easier to find caterpillars. Also a good option for containers.
Room to Grow | © Andrey Zharkikh

A good host tree option for easy caterpillar access since it stays under 20 feet. You can also grow this height-challenged prunus species in containers. It’s a host plant for Eastern tiger swallowtails, Lorquin admirals,  and Two-tailed swallowtails.

native region US: All except southeast

native region Canada: All

perennial region: USDA hardiness zones 2-7.

Find a Chokecherry Tree Here

More Prunus Virginiana Seeds and Trees

Ptelea trifoliata (hoptree or waferash)

Another host that conveniently stays under 20 feet. Its musky spring blooms are a pollinator favorite, and it’s also a caterpillar host for both eastern tiger and giant swallowtails. Pictures to come as our stick matures.

native region US: Eastern Half of US

native region Canada: Eastern Canada

perennial region: USDA hardiness zones 4b-9b.

Find a Waferash Tree to Host Giant and Tiger Swallowtails

More Ptelea Trifoliata Seeds and Trees here

Ruta graveolens (common rue)

Ruta graveolens (common rue) is a small citrus butterfly plant that hosts both black swallowtail and giant swallowtail caterpillars. Rue is also a great space saver compared to adding a citrus tree to the garden landscape.
You Won’t Rue This Day | © Leonora Enking

A small citrus butterfly plant that hosts black swallowtail caterpillars, as well as the caterpillar that transforms into the largest U.S. butterfly.

perennial region: USDA hardiness zones 4b-11.

Buy Common Rue on Amazon

More Ruta Graveolens Plants and Seeds

Zanthoxylum americanum (northern prickly ash)

The Northern Prickly Ash (Zanthoxylum americanum) is a Host Butterfly Plant for Giant Swallowtail Butterfly Caterpillars. This bush-like host tree is a good option for those growing with less space, since it grows to only about 20 feet high. Keep it smaller by cutting back branches.

The Northern Prickly Ash (Zanthoxylum americanum) is a Host Butterfly Plant for Giant Swallowtail Butterfly Caterpillars. This bush-like tree is a good option for those growing with less space, since it grows to only about 20 feet high. You can also keep it smaller by cutting it back.

native region US: Eastern half

native region Canada: Eastern half

perennial region: USDA hardiness zones 3a-7b.

Buy Zanthoxylum Americanum Here

Find Northern Prickly Ash on Etsy

Zizia aurea (golden Alexander)

Golden Alexander is a host plant for eastern black swallowtails. It grows up to 3 feet tall, and puts out small, sunny blooms in late spring. It is a member of the carrot family so rabbit fencing is a good idea. See if golden Alexander is a good fit for your garden...

This lesser-known member of the carrot family grows 2-3 feet high and puts forth small, sunny blooms in late spring. It is a host plant for eastern black swallowtails.

If you have problems with rabbits make sure to place a barrier around your plants, or you’ll be pulling out your hair like Elmer Fudd.

native region US: Eastern Half of US

native region Canada: Eastern Canada

perennial region: USDA hardiness zones 3-8.

Find Golden Alexander Plants & Seeds at Joyful Butterfly

Find More Zizia Aurea Seeds and Plants here

Butterfly Plants For Every Season

When planting your butterfly garden consider what time of year you see the most monarchs in your area and choose plants accordingly:

5 Spring Plants that could Save Monarch Butterflies

Fall Blooming Butterfly Plants

Which Butterfly Plants to consider Overwintering Indoors?

Fall Planting Butterfly Plants for next season’s Butterflies


Nectar Plants for Pollinators

Once your butterfly garden becomes more established, you’ll start to notice all the other pollinators it attracts. Here are a few nectar flower ideas you can add to support other beneficial pollinators, including bees:

Rosa ZLEEltonstrack (‘above and beyond’)

This sweetly-scented climbing rose blooms prolifically in spring and can be trained to climb an arbor, pillar, or garden trellis. To our surprise, the white and apricot blooms have been an early bee favorite, so plant this spring beauty to support your local pollinators.

This sweetly-scented climbing rose blooms prolifically in spring and can be trained to climb an arbor, pillar, or garden trellis. To our surprise, the white and apricot blooms have been an early bee favorite, so plant this spring beauty to support your local pollinators.

Find a Retailer offering ‘Above and Beyond’ Climbing Rose

Boltonia asteroides (false aster)

Boltonia Asteroides is a false aster with late blooming flowers through September and into early October. This eastern native is welcome sight to fall's final pollinators and straggler monarch butterflies coming through...
The White Sea

The white mass of flowers pictured above is from just one plant. The false aster flowers bloom from September into October and are covered with late season pollinators. Even monarchs stop to nectar on it, though it is not one of their favorites.

To avoid flopping stalks, cut your boltonia back by a third in late spring.

Liatris ligulistylis makes a good companion plant because it fading out just as the boltonia starts to bloom…

native region US: Eastern U.S. + Idaho, Oregon

native region Canada: Saskatchewan, Manitoba

perennial region: USDA Hardiness Zones 3b-10

Find White-Flowered False Aster Here

Find More Boltonia Asteroides here

Collarette Dahlias

Beneficial Bees Love Collarette Dahlias
The Green Queen Bee

Like zinnias, dahlias come in a rainbow of colors. They’ll attract some monarchs, but bees absolutely love the blooms that keep bursting until first frost. After the plants die back, you can dig up dahlia tubers to store and plant next season: Dahlia Tubers Info

They are also fast growing annuals started from seed.

Click Here to Buy Collarette Dahlias

More Collarette Dahlia seeds

Solidago speciosa (showy goldenrod)

Showy goldenrod is covered in a blanket of bumble bees at the end of each summer and also hosts other amazing pollinators. Get more info and see if this is a good pollinator plant for your region...
The Borer and the Bee

If you’re interested in supporting late season bees, showy goldenrod is always filled with them and other strange, amazing pollinators. The bright yellow blooms will also get infrequent visits from migrating monarchs.

native region US: Eastern U.S.

perennial region: USDA hardiness zones 3a-8b

Buy Showy Goldenrod Seeds or Plants Here

Symphyotrichum oblongifolium (fall or aromatic aster)

Aromatic Asters are one of the last blooming asters, but the bounty of purple flowers is well worth the wait for its stunning beauty and ability to support fall pollinators.

I highly recommend this plant if you’re looking to support late season pollinators. In zone 5 these don’t start blooming until October, which could be an issue in seasons with an early (or even average) freeze. Planting in zone 6 and up gives you a better chance for a spectacular bloom season.

Growth is bushy and compact with aromatic asters topping out at 2 feet. This butterfly plant earned its common name for its balsam-sented foliage and not because it has aromatic blooms.

native region US: Majority of U.S. except Southeast, West

native region Canada: None

perennial region: USDA Hardiness Zones 4a-9b

Buy Fall Aster for your garden here

Find Aromatic Asters on Amazon

Tradescantia ohiensis (Ohio spiderwort)

Ohio Spiderwort has a Profusion of Purple Blooms that are often visited by bumble bees. It's a striking native nectar plant for the pollinator garden...

Ohio spiderwort puts out a profusion of purple blooms in the morning, then fades as the day starts to sizzle. They’re a popular destination for bumble bees in our garden. Try Four O’clocks as a companion plant since they’re on polar opposite bloom schedules.

native region US: Eastern Half

native region Canada: East

perennial region: USDA hardiness zones 4-9.

Find Ohio Spiderwort for your garden here

Find More Ohio Spiderwort on Amazon


  • Local Plant Sales

I’m not sure what’s in your area, but two of our best resources in Minnesota are spring plant sales. Since these sales come once a year, there tends to be more variety. For those of you who prefer natives, a large percentage of plant sale plants are locally grown natives…at least from what I’ve seen.

Nectar Seeds and Plants to help bring home the joy of butterflies.

Beautiful, unusual, exotic and native plants for butterflies.

This is one of my favorite eBay vendors with a bounty of affordably priced butterfly plants and milkweed during the spring and summer months.

A nursery listed in Richmond, California, but also ship butterfly plants across the country.

eBay is an excellent resource for nectar plants and seeds. You’ll find better options if you search for specific plants. Please check a seller’s feedback rating before purchasing. If a seller has a feedback rating below 97% I look for other options.

Amazon vendors have plenty of nectar to offer too. You’ll find better options if you search for specific plants. Please read Amazon reviews to make sure you are buying from a reputable seller.

A third marketplace to find butterfly plants from both nurseries and home gardeners. Look for specific plants for best results and read customer reviews.

This nursery specializes in nectar plants that attract monarchs and more.

Search for native butterfly plants at local nurseries near your home.

More Info on Growing Butterfly Plants

Companion Plant Ideas for Milkweed?

Happy Butterfly Planting!

Share the Joy of Butterflies


  1. Hi Tony,
    Wanted to post this under “growing milkweed in containers” but didn’t see the leave a reply box there. Anyway, I have several potted milkweed plants on my 2nd floor condo balcony and am starting to find eggs! Wasn’t sure if the Monarchs would find the plants up here but they did. So, for anyone else without a yard; yes, you still can have Monarchs. Plant it (even up high in pots) and they WILL come!

  2. Bugs are eating up my butterfly garden. White flies, aphids, etc. Do you have a solution to this problem that will not affect the butterflies, eggs, caterpillers, and their cocoons?

  3. Butterfly list is very helpful. Good butterfly hunting this summer!


  4. How about the genus, Calotropis (Calotropis gigantea, Calotropis procera), the Giant Milkweed/ Crownflower? It can be grown as an annual in northern regions. The Monarchs (caterpillars and butterflies) are crazy about it, both as a host plant, and as a nectar source.

  5. Hi, I want to grow some nectar plants besides meadow blazing star for monarchs. I don’t have too much extra space, so what other plants have you found to attract the most monarchs? Also, is there a garden center/plant nursery you recommend for pesticide-free plants (as I do not want to start from seed if possible)? I live in zone 4 MN. Thanks!

    1. (I was thinking joe pye weed, bee balm, butterfly bush, and purple coneflowers)

      1. Hi Kris, those are all good nectar plants , but joe pye weed weed can take up a lot of space depending on the variety you get.

  6. Will Eastern Tiger Swallowtails use “Syringa pubescens” also know as Manchurian lilac or Miss Kim Lilac as a host plant to lay eggs and feed Eastern Tiger Swallowtail caterpillars? I have a butterfly garden and I am hoping to raise some Tiger Swallowtails.

  7. I’ve been looking everywhere for some Aristolochia (erecta, reticulata, wrightii, and coryi) and I’m not having any luck. Do you have any suggestions for plants or seed sources?
    I would be so excited to grow them!

    1. Hi Vela, I’m not familiar with any of those. With hard to find plants, I check ebay periodically. You never know what unexpected gems will appear…good luck!

  8. Is pearly everlasting a milkweed plant or just a plant for the butterfly to feed on? Thanks

    1. Hi Larry, pearly everlasting is a nectar plant for lots of small pollinators and, less frequently, butterflies. It’s a preferred host plant for american lady butterflies.

  9. I’m planning on planting flowers that will help attract monarch (and/or any native michigan) butterflies in my schools back field for a project, but the problem is that there’s a lot of deer in the area that has eaten past students plants. My teacher already has a plan on how she’s planting the milkweed but I’d like to know: Is there any types of flowers that monarch butterflies will like and deer won’t?

  10. A giant swallowtail flew into my house today (January 14th). I researched it and figured out that it likes sunlight. It seems injured but can fly, and it won’t go outside. Currently, I’m using a lamp to simulate sunlight and I’m putting honey for it (which it won’t drink). What else can I do to help it?

  11. Hello, my name is Madison and I would really appreciate some help, I’m starting a small monarch garden next year so right now I’m planning on what plants I’m going to use, is there a certain flower monarch mothers like going to more than others? I’m hoping to plant milkweed near it so I need a flower that also grows well beside milkweed. ( I’m planting them near each other so if an expectant monarch mother flies by for something to eat she might lay her eggs on the milkweed, tell me if that is a wise choice please. ) Thank you!

      1. Ok, I’ve made all my plans and am going to buy some flowers and milkweed next spring, I can’t wait join you guys in helping monarchs!

  12. Please give me a list of Fall flowers (perennials) for my late butterflies…I have Monarch caterpillars but not nectar flowers left for the to feed on, before moving on, and most all of my other butterflies have also disappeared because of this. thank you for your help.
    I would love Fall bloomers into Winter.

  13. Where did you get your northern prickly ash and is there anywhere that is selling them now in MN?

    1. I’ve got one of these trees. Have been considering starting cuttings. Would anyone be interested?

  14. I bought 3 natural milk thistle plants from our local nursery. for some strange reason, the caterpillars on one of the plants keep dying. It is close to a Jasmine tree and I’m wondering if the Jasmine has a natural pesticide that hurting the caterpillars.

    1. Hi Rhonda, I’ve never heard of any issues with planting (milkweed?) next to other plants, and some jasmine species are butterfly host plants.

    2. Your local nursery may have purchased its stock from a grower that uses herbicides on its plants to prevent pests. Very common.
      You have to ask about the practices.
      Another issue may be that it’s an inappropriate plant for larvae. I heard there are false milkweeds that the caterpillars will eat but not make it to adulthood.

  15. Hello!
    When my flowers were on a table in my backyard, butterflies actually came to them. After I planted them into the ground, I haven’t seen any butterflies come to the garden since. They come to a mimosa tree I have in the backyard, but nothing else. Do they not like how low it is? None of the plants are taller than a foot and a half or so. Is it something with the dirt? Would getting more plants and putting the table near the garden help?
    Thank you for all the information on this website

  16. Thank you Tony for all the excellent information. I am already into round two of monarchs this year. I lost about a third of my first batch of chrysalises that were attached outdoors. All of my second batch is protected in a butterfly cage – 12 hanging, 6 more munching and counting. I’m using native and pink swamp milkweed and the monarchs seem happy. Right now I have red Pentas, fire bush, purple porter weed and lantana and sunflowers. Each day I have two to three “Moms” flying around planting more eggs. Once again I am diligently pushing for 100% “birthrate”. I’ll continue to monitor your site for all the great info you provide. THANKS,
    Linda from Tampa

  17. Hi Tony,

    We had a wonderful weekend here in Detroit with temperatures in the mid 60’s yesterday. All of our snow has melted, the spring bulbs are slowly starting to sprout, and even though it’s early, my thoughts are now turning towards what new nectar plants should we try in the garden this year.

    I was wondering, have you ever tried to grow ironweed? We are thinking of trying Missouri ironweed (Vernonia missurica) this year, and I read that it is an attractive plant when it is in bloom, and one of the best attractors of late summer butterflies. The article went on to say that monarchs, swallowtails, painted ladies, and cabbage whites are frequent visitors to the flowers.

    As an added bonus the article said that bunnies don’t like the taste, so ironweed sounds like the perfect fall blooming plant for butterflies and other late season pollinators. Thanks in advance for any information you can give me on this plant.


    1. Hi Brian, we have a couple Vernonia fasciculata (prairie ironweed) and they don’t get much attention from butterflies in our garden. If they don’t do anything this season, they are getting pulled. missurica might be a more attractive species to the butterflies, but I don’t know anything about it…good luck!

  18. Hi, All!
    Can someone please provide me with a list of good nectar sources for monarchs here on the West Coast of the US? This list is so spread out that I cannot make a usable list for my students. I will cut and paste if you can send any type of list in your reply. THANK YOU so much!!

  19. I was looking for pygmy butterfly info. I have had one off and on for the last 2 months and today I saw two flying together. I live in zone 5 in northern Ohio. What is drawi ng them. This is the first year I have ever seen any that small–half the size of a white cabbage bf. Their marking, when sipping are similar to me of a monarch. Thanks for any help.

    1. hi Barb, I am not familiar with this species of butterfly. In this instance, I would suggest seeking out a butterfly group (butterfly enthusiast) on facebook for more info. good luck!

  20. FYI my bottlebrush buckeye has the most butterflies of any of the plants I have (when it is in bloom). Its another great one you should list on this lovely website!

  21. Hi Tony, We found our first monarch caterpillar EVER on what I call butterfly weed by our decorative pond this morning. Should I move it to a more traditional milkweed? We have lots of milkweed, phlox, joe pye weed in the garden.

    1. Congrats Ina, If there are enough leaves on the current plant, the caterpillar doesn’t need to switch to another milkweed variety. Hopefully that will be the first of many!

  22. I have two questions. I don’t know whether they have been talked about here or not.

    #1. My daughter (lives in SE Wisconsin) sent me seeds from her milkweed (I live in SW Missouri). I planted them and put the pots in the garden to winter over as you suggested.) I got 13 which came up. Since then, I’ve transplanted them in my NEW butterfly garden and they are doing great. Unfortunately, I don’t know the species.
    My question is – will they bloom the first year? Do they multiply from seed or from root systems or both?

    #2. I saw my first Monarch migration in many years last fall (most likely due to the butterfly bush I had planted). I have 5 this year. How do the butterflies (caterpillars) know where to find the milkweed? By sight, smell? I have the milkweeds scattered through the garden in groups of 2-3 in a bunch. I can’t remember the last time I saw milkweed here. What do the Monarch butterfly eggs look like?

    The butterfly garden we did this year is 4′ x 32″. I have 5 butterfly bushes, Monarda, Gailardia, Asters, Phlox, Echinacea, Liatris, Coreopsis, Scabiosa, lillies, lavender, parsley, chives, pineapple sage, sedum, verbena, marigolds, button flower, Pentas, lantana and a geranium. Next year I hope to add Joe Pye weed. Should I add more types of milkweed that would do well for this area?

    Oops, I think that was more than a couple of questions. I guess I should get to reading more – but sometimes all the info just seems overwhelming. I did see a lone Monarch flying around the front yard yesterday. The butterfly garden is in the BACK yard!

    Thanks for any help you can give this “old, senior citizen”!

    1. Hi Kris, I can’t really give you advice on milkweed unless I know what you’re growing. The only milkweed I overwinter indoors are the types that wouldn’t survive our Minnesota winter…tropical, swan, balloon plant, etc…

      Monarch females have sensory organs on their feet so they can tell milkweed from other plants. They locate milkweed from sight and scent.

      Your plant selection sounds pretty good. Check out this post for more ideas:

      How To Start or Improve your Butterfly Garden

    2. Agastaches of the blue varieties (Blue fortune, Boa, etc) almost equal butterfly bush as an all around pollinator draw for butterflies and bees. They fade early September in northeast Indiana (zone 5b). Butterfly bush with good dead heading pushes out highly attracting flowers to the end of September. Mexican sunflower (an annual) is very effective for Monarchs (and hummingbirds, bees) and flowers until frost which covers the later September zone. Asters and Blazing star also help fill in the later pollinator zone of September to October.

  23. Hi Tony,
    Does the prickly ash have massive thorns? I have found a shrub like tree in an abandoned subdivision and i’m not sure what it is. I’ll try and get a picture today.

  24. I am retired from my horse farm. I have made an area of about 1 1/2 acres where milkweed naturally grows for the purpose of a butterfly garden. The farm is 100 acres 80% wooded and 20% hay/pasture. My question is would it be wise to put a couple of Mimosa trees near the garden? I have a Mimosa in my yard and it attracts many butterflies as well as hummingbirds. I also have some acreage with goldenrod and Joe Pye weed. This farm is a virtual wildlife bonanza.

    1. Hi Everett, I can’t think of any reason not to plant one by your garden…especially if it’s a pollinator favorite! It’s always a good idea to have a few trees close by, because that’s where butterflies retreat to in the evenings and during inclement weather. Your butterfly field sounds amazing!

  25. Tony,

    Incredible incredible information as always!

    Do you have a Twitter account to disseminate the wealth of information you provide? Our native pollinators need all the help they can get.

  26. Hi, Tony

    I write from the Canary Islands, a Spain’s place where a group of people ( increasing) follow to Sonia Givray proyect called Proyecto Monarca blog with a lot of info, Spanish language).

    Now I try to add to the Asclepias other plants: the Gomphocarpus Fructicosa and Calotropis Procera (now in seedbed), other member of this proyect have been successful with these plants for breeding Monarchs.

    A hug from the other side of the world

    1. Hi Eloisa, I wish you and your community lots of success supporting Canary island monarchs…Good luck with your new milkweed!

  27. Hi Tony,
    Last year I had added a miss Molly and two low and behold Buddleia in my tiny yard. After reading your article I looked over my photos from last summer. I only have Monarchs on the miss Molly. I had tigerswallows on both. I’m going to pay closer attention this year to see their preference. Thank you so much for all the recommendations and information you share! (My milk jugs greenhouses are in the snow waiting for spring 🙂

  28. I just have to tell you how amazing you are! I really appreciate all the information you share with me . I really like your approach. You make me feel as if I am your friend with whom you are sharing all of your Monarch raising experiences and your ways of creating a wonderful habitat for the Monarchs. I really look forward to your communications! Thank you SO much!

  29. Hi Tony ,
    Just a short note too let you know I’m planting several kinds of Milkweed in plastic milk jugs .
    Getting a head start . Do you know if all Milkweeds seeds need to be cool before planting ?
    Spring is getting closer and I’m ready to get my fingers in the soil .
    Have a great week .

  30. Hi Tony: Just a note about my nursery for anyone in my palm beach, martin or broward county area. I specialize in pollinator plants, especially butterfly and hummingbird plants, both nectar and host. I grow all my plants without any chemicals or pesticide ever! please feel free to visit my website and I would like to know if you would include me as a nursery reference. I am also always searching out other types of milkweed to grow for our monarchs. Right now the incarnata is covered with our resident population of monarch eggs and caterpillars. Flame vines are one of my biggest sellers as are the sweet almond bush as nectar for the butterflies and the honey bees. Thanks for all you do to help our monarchs.

    1. Hi Carol, sounds like a wonderful nursery with lots of pollinator plants. I grow flame vine here in Minnesota…one of my favorite annuals. We overwinter it indoors and it is a vigorous grower..I have to cut it back every week!

      Currently, my resource page is for online vendors but I will send out a message if I create a page for local nurseries.

    2. Carol, what is your website? I would love to find a place to buy So. Fl plants that will support bees and butterflies w/o chemicals.

      Hoping to hear from you soon

  31. I live in California Coastal region of Southern California & am raising Monarchs. It’s too cold to release them right now so I’m looking for nectar plants for them right now. My gardener cut all of mine. Any suggestions?

    1. Hi Lorraine, you can also feed them with cotton balls soaked in hummmingbird nectar. They also like fruits like oranges, bananas, and watermelon.

    1. We get our seeds and cuttings from livemonarch.com. The cuttings come with little roots already developed & are very healthy & easy to grow.

  32. An informative and helpful post here. Thank you. I’ve been trying for the past few days to ID a plant that you’ve pictured above, the one with the clouded sulphur on it: verbena!

    1. Glad I could help, Verbena bonariensis is one of our top performers every year, and most gardeners I speak with across the country seem to agree.

      1. Hi… I am trying to build my garden to attract as many butterflies as I can. I have passion vine and jasmine (Madagascar and star) I want to get milkweed but I am in Florida and is hot in here, which one will be the best for me? thanks

        1. Hi Lisett, if you check out my milkweed resources page, each variety has the states listed where it’s considered native and also its USDA hardiness zones. Gardeners in your region typically report the most activity with non-native tropical milkweed, but it should be cut back once or twice a year to avoid monarch disease issues that are linked to the overuse of plants.

          Milkweed Resources Page

          1. I live in Harvey Station, NB, Canada. NOT ONE MONARCH BUTTERFLY HERE . Not this year or last year. And yes, I still plant for them and for the bees and the birds as well. Irvings are clear cutting the forest and spraying toxic chemicals to kill all the vegetation after they clear cut. No one seems to be able to stop them. And the New Brunswick government, whether Conservative or Liberal, keeps giving them more crown land to clear cut. It is a totally VILE situation.

          2. sorry to hear this Kitt…the population is low this year so many aren’t seeing monarchs. Keep planting and in a better season, your efforts will pay off. I hope you see some this season…good luck!

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