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Add These Flowers to Attract Butterflies to Your Garden

These vibrant flowers and plants provide nectar for butterflies and create a bold border for your yard.

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Photo: ©

Our Favorite Butterfly-Attracting Plants

Butterflies bring life and beauty to a garden. Entice them to visit your backyard by adding some of their favorite flowers in shades of orange, red, yellow, pink and purple, planted in masses to help butterflies find them more easily.

Butterflies must land in order to feed, so the best butterfly garden flowers include those that either feature flattened tops or tubular-shaped flower clusters. Successful butterfly gardens should include host plants for butterfly larvae (caterpillars) as well as nectar-producing plants for the adults.

Butterfly bushes (Buddleia davidii) are large, fast-growing shrubs whose flowers are irresistible to butterflies. Buddleias are easy-care plants, but they’re invasive in some areas. Look for sterile cultivars which don’t set seed and therefore don’t run wild.

These fast-growing deciduous shrubs are suitable for planting in perennial borders, cottage gardens, island beds or wherever their loose, somewhat messy growth habit won’t detract from a particular garden design you’re trying to achieve.

how to grow butterfly bush

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Phlox (Phlox paniculata) is a low-growing, spreading plant that forms a blanket of blooms all summer. Perennial varieties are great for a year-round groundcover.

Most garden phlox will grow in USDA hardiness zones 4 to 8. For best results, do a soil test before planting, to see what amendments, if any, you may need (soil test kits are available from garden centers, or your local county extension service may be able to test a soil sample for you.).

how to grow phlox

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Photo: Image courtesy of East Tennessee Wildflowers


Coneflower (Echinacea purpurea) is one of the best flowers for attracting butterflies. It adds a flashy touch of color to the late summer landscape. Plant echinacea among a low growing perennial bed where showy flowers will stand above the rest.

The plants are consistently winter hardy throughout the country, standing up to harsh Minnesota winters, as well as mild Florida ones. Echinacea plants are drought-tolerant once established, making them well-suited to today’s water-conscious plantings. They make a great choice for rain gardens, adapting easily to the wet-dry soil cycles that typify these plantings.

how to grow coneflower

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Lantana (Lantana camara) produces profuse color, showing off clusters of tiny, eye-catching blooms in a variety of hues. Typically grown as an annual, it's an excellent low hedge or accent shrub that you can also train as a standard. It attracts butterflies and tolerates heat.

Lantana care is pretty simple. Water newly planted lantana regularly to ensure healthy root development. While established plants are drought tolerant, they stage the best show when they receive roughly one inch of water per week, either through rainfall or irrigation.

lantana care guide

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