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List of Butterfly Plants

By Misty Amber Brighton ; Updated September 21, 2017
A variety of plants can be used to attract butterflies
butterfly image by pearlguy from Fotolia.com

Attracting butterflies to your backyard garden can be a rewarding venture. Observing butterflies feeding on colorful plants can be a relaxing activity. Gardeners, however, should take care not to use pesticides on plants that attract butterflies, as this can harm the insect. People who cultivate gardens for butterflies may enjoy the added benefit of hummingbirds in addition to helping bees find a source of nectar for producing honey.

Butterfly Bush

Butterfly bushes are so named because they attract a host of butterflies to a backyard garden. Butterfly bushes may have blue, yellow, red, pink or purple blossoms. For instance, Adonis Blue produces blue flowers, Honeycomb produces yellow flowers and Miss Ruby has pink flowers. Bicolor butterfly bushes produce flowers that are lavender and yellow. Black Knight produces dark purple flowers and has a very strong fragrance. When viewed from a distance, Black Knight bushes appear to be black in color. Black Knight butterfly bushes are also good attractants for bees. This bush produces long flowers that form in tiny clusters the length of the bloom. Most bushes grow around 5 feet tall with flowers that are up to 10 inches long.

Butterfly Weed

Butterfly weed is actually a bushy flower that grows up to 2 feet high. It produces small orange flowers in large clusters that have deep orange centers with lighter orange outer blooms. Butterfly weed takes two full years to being blooming. After this time, blossoms will appear from June to September. Blooms will be small during the first few seasons, but increase in size as the plant ages. Butterfly weed grows best in full sunlight and sandy soil. It is also a good choice for planting in a rock garden.


Lantana is a tropical evergreen shrub that produces flowers that are grouped in clusters 1 to 2 inches wide. Flowers contain two of the following colors: white, yellow, rose, red, orange or pink. It is not unusual for Lantana flowers to change colors as the plant matures. Leaves are pointed and oval with jagged edges. This bush can reach a height of up to 6 feet high and spread as far as 8 feet. This plant is native to the tropics and grows well in Florida. In colder climates, Lantana can be grown as an annual. It can be planted in containers, but would be ideally placed along the borders of a butterfly garden.

Other Plants

Butterflies like colorful single-bloom flowers. They prefer single blooms because it is easier for them to get nectar from the flower. Marigolds, zinnias, cosmos, black-eyed Susan, purple coneflower, goldenrod, aster and buttonbush are all known to attract butterflies. Vines such as honeysuckle and morning glory are good choices if space is limited and gardeners need to grow plants vertically. Lilac bushes attract butterflies and hummingbirds because of their nectar and bright color. Butterflies are also attracted to herbs such as sage, dill, parsley and fennel.


About the Author


Misty Amber Brighton has been writing for over 10 years. Her writing has appeared on various websites. She is a veteran of the United States Armed Forces and attends South University.