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 having 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 hummingbirds.

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

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.

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.

For more information about butterfly gardens, read this.

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

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.

They cover my flowers when they are in full bloom.

And the bright colors of the flowers brighten up summer borders.

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.

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.

And the butterflies go crazy for the nectar.

Monarch butterfly landing on echinacea flower in aButterfly Garden

This is one of many monarchs that enjoy my echinacea.

I’ve been growing these coneflowers here for years and they’ve really taken over the area.

So I plan to divide them and move them around in fall.

Monarch butterfly enjoying nectar from echinacea flowers in Butterfly Garden

Butterfly Bush

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

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

Not to mention, they grow quickly after planting.

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

And look so gorgeous.

Plus the blooms last a while too.

Butterfly Bush close up

I just planted 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 Weed

Butterfly weed is so pretty isn’t it?

The brightly colored orange flowers add lots of color to the garden in summer.

This is my 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 the monarch lay their eggs on the underside of the leaves.

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

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


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

But through the years, it petered out.

I need to add more because liatris adds a lot of visual interests 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.

And are a must-have plant in the summer 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 the 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 cutting garden.

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

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

Butterflies are attracted to the bright yellow blooms.

So it’s a must-have flower 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.

Black Eyed Susans (Rudbekia)

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

They are super easy to care for.

Divide easily.

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

Look gorgeous in the garden.

And the butterflies love them!

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.

The butterflies love these blooms.

pink tall phlox flowers up close with yellow daylillies

Here in New Jersey, they can get afflicted with powdery mildew easily.

But last summer, I was applying an organic fungicide pretty regularly, and the blooms lasted SO MUCH longer.

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

I love the fuschia colored tall phlox in this bed.

I don’t know the variety of it, but it looks so good when it blooms with that smoketree foliage.

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.

Do not overlook this one for your garden if it grows in your hardiness zone.

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

Because it is a workhorse in the flower garden.

And the butterflies go crazy for the nectar.

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

Joe Pye Weed

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

It grows so tall.

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.

They are a must-have flower that adds lots of visual interest to the garden too.

Woodland Garden Ideas with close up of joe pye weed flowers

Joe Pye Weed attracts lots of 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

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 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

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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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