Invite More Butterflies
Colorful, easy-to-grow plants for a nectar-packed garden.
1 Butterfly weed
ASCLEPIAS TUBEROSA, ZONES 3 TO 9 Distinctive clusters of bright orange flowers are a must-stop destination for butterflies, especially monarchs and black swallowtails. After all, it didn’t get its name for nothing. Butterfly weed grows 1 to 2 1/2 feet tall and blooms from mid- to late summer. It tolerates dry soil and prefers plenty of sunshine.
Why we love it: The showy bright orange blooms are deer resistant and drought tolerant, and butterfly weed is easy to grow from seed and super resilient—a major win!
CLEOME HASSLERIANA, ANNUAL This old-time garden favorite, also called spider flower, gets its common name from the long and threadlike flower stamens and elongated seedpods. Cultivars come in white, pink, rose or purple flowers and quickly reach 5 to 6 feet tall. Newer cultivars, between 12 and 18 inches tall, are suitable for containers.
Why we love it: Cleome is a bright, resilient flower that readily self-seeds new generations. In addition to butterflies, bees and hummingbirds also love it.
PENTAS LANCEOLATA, ANNUAL
If you like butterflies, you simply must grow pentas. These bright annuals, also known as starflowers, are easy to spot from afar. Just look for the large clusters of starlike flowers in bright pinks, reds and whites. They’re full of nectar and real butterfly magnets. And aside from being frost sensitive, they’re pretty hardy. Shorter cultivars work well in pots, while taller pentas can be interspersed with other companions in beds.
Why we love it: It’s an annual that has the size and presence of a perennial.
4 Meadow blazing star
LIATRIS LIGULISTYLIS, ZONES 3 TO 8 While any liatris attracts pollinators, spindly meadow blazing star is one of the monarch butterfly’s absolute favorite nectar sources. The long-lasting flowers range from rose to purple and appear in late summer on stalks reaching 4 to 6 feet high.
Why we love it: Very showy flowers pop up late in the growing season when color is needed; tall plants make butterfly viewing easy.