Butterflies do not have a sense of smell. They are attracted to gardens by large displays of colorful flowers. Flowers need butterflies for pollination and have developed the bright colors that butterflies cannot resist. The flowers do not have to be large. Plants grow small flowers that grow in large clusters that have the same effect as large single blooms. Plant a mix of colors and sizes for the best results when looking to attract butterflies.
Golden dewdrop (Duranta erecta) is also known as pigeonberry and skyflower and is a member of the verbena family. The plant is an evergreen shrub or tree that grows up to 18 feet tall and about the same in width. The shrub produces oval shaped leaves that grow from 1 to 3 inches long and blue, violet or purple tube-shaped flowers blooming all year in clusters. The small, yellow fruit grows along with the flowers. The plant is hardy in USDA Hardiness Zones 8 through 11 and grows best in full sun and soil that is moist. The plant is attractive to both butterflies and hummingbirds.
New England Aster
New England aster (Symphyotrichum novae-angliae (L.) Nesom) is native from Quebec and Maine west to Wyoming, Colorado and New Mexico and then east to South Carolina and is found in all but the far west and deep south. The plant grows to about 6 feet tall and produces flowers with yellow centers and rose-purple flowers that bloom from August through October. Plant New England aster in partial shade and a soil that is moist. The flowers attract bees and butterflies and is a food source for monarchs.
Bloodflower (Asclepias curassavica) is also known as scarlet milkweed, silkweed and Indian root. The plant is an evergreen shrub that grows from 3 to 4 feet tall with thin leaves that grow up to 5 inches long. The orange, yellow or red flowers bloom in clusters that measure from 2 to 4 inches across from spring right through to fall. Plant bloodflower in full sun, partial shade or full shade and in any kind of soil: moist, wet or dry. The plant is hardy in USDA Zones 8B to11 and attracts butterflies and other insects.
Sweet pepperbush (Clethra alnifolia) is also known as summersweet and is a member of the sweet pepperbush family. The plant grows from 4 to 8 feet tall with leaves that grow from 2 to 3 inches long and turn gold in the fall. The fragrant, small, white flowers grow in thick clusters at the ends of the stems. Plant sweet pepperbush in full sun or partial shade and in a soil that is moist and well drained.
The plant is hardy in USDA Zones 4 to 9.