How to Use Plants & Flowers to Attract Perennial Butterflies


Butterflies have specific nutritional requirements during all of their stages of development. Appealing to the senses of a butterfly---sight, taste and smell---and providing a reliable source of food offers the best opportunity to attract butterflies into your garden or outdoor space. Incorporating the correct native perennial plants into a garden is the most important key to attracting butterflies season after season.

Step 1

Incorporate host plants to feed butterfly larvae. Host plants provide a place for butterflies to lay their eggs. For example, plant dill, fennel or Queen Anne's lace to attract the caterpillar of the black swallowtail.

Step 2

Plant native plants, which will supply butterflies with nectar for food. A few examples include sweet Indian mallow, which grows in Arizona, Arkansas, New Mexico and Oklahoma and serves as a host plant and source of nectar for several species of butterflies. Indigo bush and orange milkweed are two common perennial plants used in Florida.

Step 3

Select specific color plants. Incorporate plants that have red, orange, purple, pink or yellow blossoms, because according to the National Wildlife Federation, butterflies that are looking for nectar are attracted to these colors.

Step 4

Plant aromatic perennial plants that attract butterflies, such as lantana, butterfly milkweed or black-eyed Susan, as their fragrance directs butterflies to nectar-filled blooms. Choose plants native to your area for maximum results.

Step 5

Be selective about where plants are placed. Choose areas of your landscape that are shielded from strong winds but receive lots of exposure to the sun. Group plants closely in contrasting colors. (For example, plant a purple blooming flower next to a group of orange blooming flowers.)


  • National Wildlife Federation: Attracting Butterflies
  • Perennials that Attract Butterflies and Hummingbirds

Who Can Help

  • Native Plant Database
Keywords: attracting butterflies, plants and butterflies, perennial plants butterflies

About this Author

Stephanie D. Green is a freelance writer with over 10 years of experience. Green holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in English and enjoys writing parenting, gardening and human interest articles. Her work has been published in lifestyle and trade publications including Draft Magazine and Savannah Magazine.