What Flowers Attract Butterflies?

Butterflies will investigate almost all species of flowers within their ecosystem, but these colorful insects find certain types of flowers more alluring. The nectar of specific flower species is what butterflies crave as they flit from flower to flower in search of a meal. Once you identify which kinds of flowers butterflies prefer, you can add them to your garden and wait for the winged insects to show up.

Scarlet Milkweed

Scarlet milkweed (Asclepias curassavica) attracts butterflies, and the plant is easy to grow. Scarlet milkweed features a milky sap like most members of its plant family, elliptical 5-inch long leaves and red/orange flowers. The plant blooms from late spring into autumn and will tempt butterflies into your yard. The scarlet milkweed is a non-native species, originating in South America, but after its introduction into the United States, the plant now grows naturally in many warm areas. Scarlet milkweed will grow in wet, moist and dry ground in the full sun or in a partially shady portion of your garden or lawn. In the warmer states, the plant will remain evergreen and in cooler climates, it will typically die to the ground but then grow back again when spring arrives. The monarch butterfly in particular will come to this species, often laying its eggs on it.


Beebalm (Monarda didyma) belongs to the mint family and features fragrant foliage and flowers that not only attract butterflies, but bees and hummingbirds as well. Beebalm forms clumps and spreads easily in your garden, so you may have to resort to thinning it out where this becomes a problem. Beebalm flowers come in many colors according to the type of cultivar, with some like the Alba producing white blooms and the Jacob Kline developing bright red ones. The flower is a native species in parts of the east, growing in the wild near streams and in damp woodlands. The plant needs steady watering, and it will flourish in the sun or in partial shade. The Floridata website states that you can divide the root clumps of beebalm in the latter stages of winter, and plant them in the spring.

Small Scabious

The flower known as the small scabious (Scabiosa columbaria) has the alternate name of butterfly blue. Butterfly blue grows in clumps up to 2 feet high and as wide as 3 feet. The plant develops multiple branches and possesses hairy greenish-gray leaves. The flowers are lavender-blue in color and an inch and a half across. Native to portions of the Mediterranean area and western parts of Asia, the small scabious prefers neutral or slight alkaline soil and needs full sun. This species requires little water and makes a great addition to a rock garden. Besides bringing butterflies into view, the small scabious holds up well as cut flowers.

Keywords: flowers attract butterflies, scarlet milkweed butterflies, beebalm butterflies

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John has written thousands of articles for Demand Studios, Associated Content and The Greyhound Review. A Connecticut native, John has written extensively about sports, fishing, and nature.