A Passion for Purple In The Butterfly Garden
Purple is the color of juicy plums, stunning sunsets, or a sparkling glass of wine…Steven Spielberg even made a classic movie about it!
Are you looking to add patches of purple brilliance to your butterfly garden? If so, there are some excellent options to choose from that include both host plant and nectar flowers for monarchs and other pollinators.
Lets start your purple quest with a rarer milkweed species that’s similar to common milkweed, but behaves much better in a garden setting:
This milkweed can be grown in USDA plant hardiness zones 5a-9b. Other milkweed species that have purple flowers or accents are antelope horns milkweed (Asclepias asperula), hearteaf milkweed (Asclepias cordifolia), tall green milkweed (Asclepias hirtella), sandhill milkweed (Asclepias humistrata), spider milkweed (Asclepias viridis), giant milkweed (Calotropis gigantea), and the milkweed tree (Calotropis procera).
More info on the other purple milkweeds here
These compact butterfly bushes come in pleasing purple shades like magenta, deep purple, and velvet. They’re hardy to zone 5 and can be grown in pots…or not!
There are other Duranta erecta cultivars that are just as spectacular as ‘sapphire showers’ but it’s one I’ve heard lots of good things about from both a beauty and butterfly-attracting viewpoint. It’s a tender perennial in USDA garden zones 9b-11, but can be grown as an annual in colder zones. I’m actually overwintering one in Minnesota and it looks great.
This species of liatris is not what you commonly find in nurseries, but accept no substitute if you want to attract migration monarchs! Grow in zones 4a-9b.
Add the earlier blooming Liatris aspera if you want to attract monarchs in July. As the aspera starts to fade, ligulistylis will host the ultimate butterfly garden party to end the season.
…but wait! we recently discovered an eastern native liatris that blooms even later! Introducing…
The showiest of these three liatris with vibrant blooms through the end of September in our Minnesota garden and attracts lots of monarchs, and the (painted) ladies love it too:
Liatris scariosa is native to the northeastern half of the US and is suggested for USDA hardiness zones 3-8.
Stachytarpheta frantzii is a purple porterweed species that is reported to have superior powers of attraction for both butterflies and hummingbirds. It also comes in deep blue.
The purple butterfly flower that should have lots of purple persuasion in your butterfly garden is verbena bonariensis. I like to plant this throughout the garden because the majority of our visiting pollinators seem drawn to it…from skippers, to majestic monarch butterflies.
This late-blooming native flower gives late migrating monarchs much-needed nectar nourishment and is also one of the last nectar sources available for a variety of bees and other precious pollinators.