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10 Easy Care Plants That Butterflies Love

Looking for ways to attract butterflies to your garden? Plant these 10 easy-care plants that butterflies love.

I can’t believe summer is half over already!

Before you know it, fall planting season will arrive, so it’s time to start thinking about things you want to add to your garden now.

Since I’m often asked about plants that attract butterflies, I created a top 10 list of easy-care perennials that they love.

When I started my flower garden, it was really important to me to attract pollinators.

Before planting, I researched butterfly and hummingbird attracting plants that grow well in my area to entice them to my yard.

Thankfully, there are lots of gorgeous flowers that attract both so this list is a great start to growing a pollinator garden.

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close up of monarch butterfly on echinacea flowers in Butterfly Garden
Monarch butterfly enjoys my coneflowers on a sunny day.

Why Should I Plant a Butterfly Garden

Planting a butterfly garden not only attracts butterflies but also attracts hummingbirds.

Every butterfly garden has bright and beautiful nectar loving plants that feed both butterflies and caterpillars.

And the more plants for butterflies you grow, the more butterflies you will attract to your garden.

Backyard cottage garden in front of garden shed -cut flower garden in my gardening zone 6a backyard border. This is my favorite cottage garden in the landscape in front of the garden shed

How Much Sunlight Do Butterfly Gardens Need?

Butterfly gardens need full sun because the flowers that attract butterflies need full sun.

And the butterflies themselves need the warmth from the sun to warm their muscles for flight.

So growing plants for butterflies in full sun is a must.

7 Lessons I Learned From Growing a Flower Patch

Tips to Attracting Butterflies with Plants

  • Select plants with varying bloom times so butterflies are fed from spring through fall. Check the plant tag for bloom times. Butterflies are drawn to clusters of like colors so it is important to plant enough of the same flowers together.
  • Butterflies favor native plants.
  • Where possible, avoid pesticides in your gardens because they can wipe out butterflies and other pollinators.
Close up of Sunflowers 'panache' in the flower patch
  • Butterflies are drawn to brightly colored purples, blues, yellows, whites and pinks.
  • Focus on plants with multiple florets as well as composite flowers, because they can get more nectar at one time.
  • Avoid double flowering varieties because they carry less nectar.

Read this more information about butterfly gardens.

Cottage Garden with tall phlox that is pink and white balloon flower -My gardening zone 6a summer flowers

My Top 10 List of Easy Care Plants that Attract Butterflies

In my gardens, butterflies love:

  • Bee Balm
  • Echinacea
  • Butterfly Bush
  • Butterfly Weed
  • Liatris
  • Coreopsis
  • Black-Eyed Susan
  • Tall Phlox
  • Sedum Autumn Joy
  • Joe Pye Weed
  • Millweed

And the best part?

close up of monarch butterfly on joe pye weed

Most of these blooms over the course of a few months, so your garden will bloom from spring through fall.

While most of the plants on this list will do well in a range of zones, keep in mind that I garden in hardiness zone 6a New Jersey.

Before planting, check your hardiness zone to be sure these plants will do well in your climate.

Flowering hostas, monarda and joe pye weed flowers -Shade Garden in the back border

Bee Balm

Butterflies love bee balm and is high on my list of butterfly attracting plants.

They cover my monarda flowers when they are in full bloom.

And bee balm’s bright colors liven up summer borders.

So if you are interested in growing a colorful garden that’s always in bloom, monarda is a good choice for summer flowers.

Swallowtail butterfly on mondarda in myButterfly Garden

Echinacea (Coneflowers)

Coneflowers are so gorgeous, aren’t they?

Each year when they bloom I am just in awe.

Echinacea is another summer blooming perennial that requires full sun and attracts lots of pollinators.

Close up of echinops with echinacea and rose flowers in a cottage garden -dividing perennials - echinops, echinacea and monarda
Echinops mixed with echinacea

They are perfect for the cottage garden because they are bright, bold, tall, and beautiful.

Plus, echinacea self sows easily and spreads throughout the garden over time once established.

And the butterflies go crazy for the nectar too.

Monarch butterfly landing on echinacea flower in aButterfly Garden

This is one of many monarchs that enjoy my echinacea.

I’ve been growing coneflowers for years and they can really take over an area.

To keep coneflowers under control, divide them and move them around in spring or fall.

Monarch butterfly enjoying nectar from echinacea flowers in Butterfly Garden
echinacea, bee balm and liatris in cottage garden in early summer garden tour with green garden fence

Butterfly Bush

To grow a butterfly bush is to love a butterfly bush.

They bloom all summer long and will be covered with butterflies from summer through fall.

Not to mention, they grow quickly after planting. So if you need a plant that will get some height in a short amount of time that blooms, butterfly bush is a great option.

hostas, joe pye weed and wood picket fence panel ingarden nj shade garden

Butterfly bushes are wonderful butterfly attracting plants that look so gorgeous and graceful in the garden.

Plus the blooms last a while too.

The care is pretty minimal on them but can be a little invasive in certain areas. So read the label and check with your local cooperative extension before planting.

Butterfly Bush close up

I just planted Proven Winners Grande Cascade in the garden this year.

And I can’t wait to see how it blooms!

I was given this pretty beauty from Walter’s Gardens.

Butterfly Bush close up
Photo by Walters Gardens

Butterfly Weed

Have you grown butterfly weed before? I realize it doesn’t sound very attractive but the dainty orange flowers are striking in the summer garden.

The brightly colored orange blooms add lots of color to early summer borders.

This is my former garden’s butterfly weed mixed with Nepeta ‘walkers low’.

Butterfly weed and catmint in my jersey garden

Isn’t that a pretty combination?

Not only do the butterflies love butterfly weed, but monarchs lay their eggs on the underside of the leaves.

So be judicious when removing garden debris because they house these beautiful creatures.

Butterfly weed is easy to grow, self sows easily, and is one of the best plants to attract butterflies.

butterfly weed and balloon flowers close up
Butterfly weed (orange flowers) and balloon flower.

Liatris

I used to have so much more liatris in my former garden.

But through the years, it petered out and disappeared.

I need to add more because liatris adds a lot of visual interest with it’s spikey blooms.

And the butterflies love them all summer long.

Liatris close up
I used to have Liatris in my cottage garden but had to pull it when it was invaded by dodder a few years ago. I need to replant this!

Liatris comes in a variety of colors and are pretty hardy where I live.

They are beautiful in a cottage garden, is one of the must-have plants butterflies like, blooms in the summer, and has lots of charm.

Blazing Star is another one of those easy care plants for butterflies that are a must-have in a pollinator garden.

liatris close up for butterfly garden - Summer Garden Flowers that Butterflies Love
Liatris ‘Kobold Orginal’ from Walter’s Gardens.

Moonbeam Coreopsis

I’ve had a love affair with moonbeam coreopsis since I started gardening.

The dainty yellow flowers are so pretty.

And these butterfly attracting plants are very easy to care for.

close up of Moonbeam coreopsis plants butterflies love

I have Moonbeam Coreopsis in almost every garden because it is so easy to divide.

Here it is in my former cut flower garden and a few other borders.

Doesn’t it look great with my kids’ old Radio Flyer tricycle too?

Small Butterfly Garden with petunias, tall phlox and red flyer bicycle with zebra grass

Since moving to our new home with expansive gardens, I’ve noticed moonbeam coreopsis growing in several front yard beds.

Butterflies are attracted to the bright yellow blooms.

And it’s one of the prettiest butterfly attracting plants. I love that bushy growing habit.

Because moonbeam coreopsis is so easy to grow and care for, it makes the perfect plant to grow in a butterfly garden.

Summer Flower Arrangement with orange daylillies in farmhouse kitchen with white cabinets painted with chalk paint on kitchen island with granite
Moonbeam coreposis in a fresh cut flower arrangement.

Since moving, I wanted to try new-to-me varieties of plants that attracts butterflies that I’ve grown before.

So new to my garden is ‘Creme Caramel’ coreopsis that looks very similar to moonbeam, but is more peachy in color.

It’s in full bloom right now and looks AMAZING in my front porch garden.

close up of tickseed or coreopsis 'caramel creme' in my early summer garden tour

Black Eyed Susans (Rudbekia)

Black eyed susans are one of my favorite summer garden flowers.

Rudbekia is super easy to care for.

Divides easily.

rudbekia and limelight hyrdrangea flowers with rudbekia -gardening zone 6a summer flowers

Look gorgeous in the summer garden.

And are one of the prettiest summer blooming plants butterflies like.

Rudbekia needs full sun, minimal care, and grows about 3 feet tall when in full bloom.

Rudbekia, tall pholx and echinacea in butterfly garden - Summer Garden Flowers that Butterflies Love
Black-Eyed Susans and Tall Phox

Tall Phlox

I’ve been growing tall phlox for several years.

They are simply gorgeous plants that butterflies love and are highly attracted to.

You simply can’t beat those tall spiky flowers that bloom from summer through fall.

Tall phlox is easy to care for, but comes with some caveats.

pink tall phlox flowers up close with yellow daylillies

Here in my New Jersey garden, they can get afflicted with powdery mildew midsummer.

While you can do nothing, allowing them to do their thing.

If you apply an organic fungicide regularly, the tall phlox flowers will last so much longer.

Last summer, I was applying an organic fungicide pretty regularly, and the blooms lasted from summer through fall and the plant looked great.

Small Garden Flowers that Butterlies Love with pink tall phlox, zebra grass and red flyer tricycle

I love the fuschia colored tall phlox in my former garden bed.

I don’t recall the variety, but it always looked so beautiful when it blooms with that smoketree foliage.

In my new gardens, I don’t have either tall phlox or smoketree. Looking back at these photos, I need to add some.

Gorgeous cottage garden in the backyard in front of a garden shed with sedum autumn joy and wood picket fence with dahlias and zinniasin front of garden shed in backyard garden - My cut flower garden in front of the shed in the backyard with a wood picket fence and sedum autumn joy - How to Save Money at the Garden Nursery
Cut Flower Gardening for Beginners

Sedum Autumn Joy

Sedum Autumn Joy is one of my favorite perennials because it is a four-season, easy-care, easy to propagate, plant.

But the best part?

It is high on the list of plants for butterflies.

So do not overlook sedum autumn joy for your garden if it grows in your hardiness zone because you will thank me for it later.

Sedum Autumn Joy and zinniaz up close - are great late blooming summer flowers

Because it is a true workhorse in the flower garden as it constantly adds color, texture, and dimension to borders.

And the butterflies go crazy for the nectar.

Oftentimes, I’ll notice my sedum autumn joy covered with pollinators so they do wonders in both your garden, as well as the environment.

Sedum autumn and rudbekia flowers up close -Preparing the Flower Garden For Fall Plantings

While this plant blooms in fall, you can’t beat the chartreuse flower heads in summer that pair well with other summer blooming favorites like echinacea, bee balm, and black eyed susans.

To learn more about why Sedum Autumn Joy is an underrated plant, watch this video.

YouTube video

Joe Pye Weed

Joe Pye does so well and is super easy to care for.

It grows very tall so be sure to grow this butterfly attracting plant in the back of the border.

Joe Pye Weed blooms in late summer through fall and help the garden transition between the seasons.

Flowering hostas, monarda and joe pye weed flowers -Shade Garden in the back border

And the butterflies cover them while they bloom and as the flowers fade.

It is spectacular to watch them.

Joe Pye Weed is another must-have flower that adds lots of visual interest to the garden and requires minimal care.

Woodland Garden Ideas with close up of joe pye weed flowers

It is one of the best plants that attracts butterflies and lots of other pollinators.

The butterflies and bees love them.

And they are super easy to propagate.

I have this perennial in almost all of my gardens.

close up of Joe Pye Weed

Milkweed

Milkweed is a native plant that is considered to be a host plant for monarch butterflies as they lay their eggs on the underside of the leaves.

Plant milkweed in the garden for summer blooms and an easy care plant that butterflies like.

Easy to care for, Milkweed grows roughly 3 feet tall and has beautiful white dainty flowers.

They can attract aphids too, so be sure not to use any pesticides to remove aphids from the plant.

Grab a garden hose and knock them off with a strong spray of water only so you don’t risk killing off monarch butterfly eggs.

close up of milkweed against a green garden fence

When Should I Plant My Butterfly Garden?

Spring or fall is the best time to plant a new garden.

And if you don’t want to break your back starting a new garden from scratch, try this easy method.

cut flower garden in nj in late summer

So What Plants Attract Butterflies the Most?

If I had a dollar for every time someone asked me this question, I’d be a very rich woman!

If I was to get more specific than the above, the plants that I’ve had the greatest success include the following.

Want More Caterpillars?

To encourage more caterpillars in your garden, plant lots of milkweed and dill that you let go to seed.

And if you want to attract more butterflies?

My tried and true favorites include: Echinacea, Joe Pye Weed, Butterfly Weed, Butterfly Bush, and Sedum Autumn Joy.

How Do You Arrange a Butterfly Garden?

There are a few things to consider when designing a butterfly garden.

  • Start a plan that includes the plants you want to grow and types of butterflies you want to attract.
  • Garden organically. Avoid synthetic or non-organic pesticides and chemicals in and around the garden.
  • Provide food through the plants listed above for both caterpillars and butterflies.
  • Create shelter from harsh environmental elements and predators.
  • Add a water supply.
  • The garden must be sited in a sunny location. Look for an area that receives about 6-8 hours of direct sun.
  • Plant in large drifts of color. Butterflies are drawn to bright colors so the more planted together the better.
Gorgeous container garden with ranunculas and pansies in front of flowering crabapple trees in spring with lenten rose -Gardening 101: Container gardening basics for beginners
front porch garden view by stone wall with hostas, superwave petunia, larkspur, snapdragons, superwave petunia latte, echinacea, yarrow, tickseed, nepeta and zinnias by stone wall in my early summer garden tour

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Home and Garden Blogger Stacy Ling cutting zinnia flowers in her cottage garden with wood picket fence in front of garden shed

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close up of tall phlox and limelight hydrangea blooms that are easy care plants that butterflies love
close up of limelight hydrangea, zinnia and rudbekia flowers that are great butterfly garden plants
close up of butterfly garden plants -10 Easy Care Plants that Butterflies Love

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6 Comments

  1. Pingback: Saturday Shares | Week 18 - Cottage On Bunker Hill
  2. Love this post and I have several of these plants and enjoy the butterflies! I’ll share a link on my Sunday post.

  3. Pingback: Dirt Road Adventures - DIY Weekly - The Ponds Farmhouse